GVSU racks up pool records, honors seniors

GVL / Mohamed Azuz
The swim team practicing last Monday for their meet against Findlay on Saturday.


GVL / Mohamed Azuz The swim team practicing last Monday for their meet against Findlay on Saturday.

Jay Bushen

A distinguished senior class didn’t need an opponent in the building to make Senior Day a memorable one at the Grand Valley State University Pool.

The GVSU men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams sent the group off with a bang on Saturday by setting nine pool records in their regular season finale in a first-ever “virtual meet” against the University of Findlay.

Findlay was unable to make the trip due to weather but participated in its own pool and sent the results to GVSU. Both Laker squads “virtually” swam laps around the Oilers, as the No. 9 women’s team notched a 201-39 victory, while the No. 2 men’s team coasted 203-33.

GVSU senior Caitlyn Madsen said she and her classmates felt appreciated all day long.

“We walked into the locker rooms this morning and all the girls had written us letters,” Madsen said. “To see how much we’ve had an impact on their careers — that was a great way to start the day.

“Coach talked us up and told us to swim like the other team was there or even better. We were super motivated, and people were jumping up and down with excitement for every record that was broken.”

The West Chicago, Ill., native inked her name into the women’s school record book nine times — the most in GVSU history — and improved two pool records with her teammates cheering her on.

“It’s like a family to me, I’m going to miss it,” she said. “Our senior class as a whole had a great career. It was the first that had every single senior in the top 10 list in GVSU history. We made an impact on the program.”

She broke her pool record in the 100 fly by recording a time of 56.95, while classmate Danielle Vallier finished in 1:03.57. Both four-year competitors also swam a leg on the record-setting 200 medley relay team that included senior Katie Vulpetti and freshman Meghan Falconer and hit the wall in 1:44.77.

The 200 free relay team consisting of juniors Sarah Roeser, Olivia Schultz, Emily Eaton and Lauren Foor set the GVSU Pool record with a mark of 1:35.45, while Roeser added one more in the 50 free with a time of 23.88.

The three-year swimmers figure to swim in the wake of their departing elders next season.

“It was definitely inspirational for the younger swimmers and divers on the team,” head coach Andy Boyce said. “You use them as an example.”

Not to be outdone, the Laker men also turned in a big day by recording four pool records of their own.

Senior Michael Griffith clocked in three on the day by setting the mark in the 100 fly while doing his part on two record-setting relay teams.

The senior trio of Griffith, Aaron Marken and Erik Aakesson teamed up with sophomore Gianni Ferrero to set a record in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:30.94, just before Griffith, Aakesson, junior Milan Medo and freshman Danny Abbott hit the wall in 1:22.95 for yet another pool-best time.

“It was a different kind of last home meet,” Griffith said. “We’d like to be going against another team, but the emotion was not too different from a usual dual meet. We wanted to go out with a bang and get first places — there was a lot of concentration.”

Seniors Ellen Wiese, Nathan Winkler, Kyle Gunderson, William Gombos and Nathan Baker also turned in impressive performances and were honored during the festivities.

It seems the senior class will not only go down as one that broke a multitude of school records, but also as one that helped make a program more than a program for many of its student athletes.

“As a team, we’re probably the best we’ve had here in a really long time,” Griffith said. “We’re more of a family-based team. We get behind each other, and our senior class has stepped up to show the freshmen what it takes.”