GVSU Swim, dive teams finish 11th and 14th at nationals

Courtesy Photo / Dean Breest

Danielle Vallier swims the Breaststroke.

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Dean Breest Danielle Vallier swims the Breaststroke.

Jay Bushen

At nationals, the Lakers proved why they will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

The Grand Valley State University swimming and diving teams bested a number of varsity records at the 2013 NCAA Division II National Championships over spring break, as the men finished in 11th place while the women came away with a 14th place finish.

Division II powerhouse Drury University won both the men’s and women’s national championships.

The men’s team performed at a high level despite sending only six national qualifiers, half as many as last season.

“We knew we weren’t going to get a top four finish,” said GVSU junior Michael Griffith. “We weren’t too anxious about the races and that worked in our favor. Finishing in 11th place was a real moral victory for us. The six guys we had performed just as good as last year’s team.”

Griffith earned All-America honors in the 100 fly with a fourth-place time of 47.85 seconds, which was .14 seconds short of Aaron Beebe’s varsity record.

He and teammates freshman Gianni Ferrero, sophomore Milan Medo and junior Erik Aakesson were able to eclipse a school record in the 200 free relay with a seventh-place time of 1:20.82, earning All-America honors in the process.

“This year I was lucky to swim with an elite group of guys,” Griffith said.

The same team also set the varsity record in the 400 free relay, with a seventh-place time of 2:59.14.

GVSU head coach Andy Boyce said the future is bright for his young team.

“We seem to keep on getting better and better,” Boyce said. “We have some good classes coming in next year and we’re not losing too many seniors.”

On the women’s side, junior captains Caitlyn Madsen and Danielle Vallier impressed with a pair of All-America performances.

In the 100 breaststroke, Vallier posted a fifth-place time of 1:03.73 while Madsen touched seventh in the 200 fly with a time of 2:04.57.

The duo, along with sophomores Sarah Roeser and Olivia Schultz, broke a school record in the in 400 medley relay, finishing ninth with a time of 3:46.72.

“I’m really happy with our performance,” Vallier said. “It’s going to be even better next year if we continue to work hard. It was a really exciting season with all the records we were able to break—it feels pretty awesome.”

The team also received a pair of stellar performances on the diving board from freshman standout Taylor Wiercinski.

Wiercinski set a GVSU freshman and varsity record on the 3-meter board with a score of 482.10, good enough for fourth place in the nation. She also posted a sixth-place score on the 1-meter board with a score of 443.70.

“We had so many great performances,” Boyce said. “We broke several school records with some fast times and the team really pulled together as a group. We had hoped for a higher finish in the end, but overall I would say it was a good year.”
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