Swim teams prep in Florida, compete at FIU

Pete Barrows

If you were to look out a window anywhere in Florida today, you would not see a flake of snow. That is clearly not the case here in Michigan.

On Dec. 30, the Grand Valley State University swimming and diving teams migrated south to escape the Michigan winter and drove 26 hours to find more suitable conditions in which to train.

Despite the guise of a holiday vacation, the trip consisted of more work than play.

“We got our butts kicked pretty hard this week—it’s a lot more training than we’re used to—but this team is probably in the best position it’s been in three or four years,” senior Kyle Gunderson said. “Back at school, we only get two or three hours a day to train so this trip gives us more time to get our bodies broken back down, which will benefit us later in the season.”

Between Dec. 31 and Jan. 3, GVSU swam two, three-hour practices a day in a 50-meter pool, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, with a weight session training still to come in the rigorous routine.

That’s 24 hours spent in the water during a four-day span.

“We got some great training in, we really pushed the kids to their limit and we did something right because all the kids are pretty tired,” head coach Andy Boyce said as his student-athletes boarded busses bound back north. “The times weren’t necessarily the best at the meet, but that’s part of our training — to try and swim fast when we are tired.”

GVSU concluded the trip with a meet on Saturday hosted by Florida International University.

The Laker men took second place, ahead of NCAA Division I opponent Eastern Michigan University, without traveling any divers.

The women also showed well and out swam the University of New Mexico and Old Dominion University, both Division I programs.

“It was a long meet and it took a while to get through it, but it’s nice to go out as a Division II program and swim well against Division I schools. It was a good cap to our training,” Boyce said.

Perhaps more paramount than any result at the meet was the growth the Lakers undertook collectively as a team in such a short amount of time.

The 26-hour bus ride there and back included.

“This trip makes for a stronger team, in every way. We get to spend a lot of time together and grow in and out of the pool,” junior Emily Eaton said. “We also get to train in meters, which we don’t get to do back at home, and that really helps us as swimmers to improve and build endurance.

“To see everyone, to learn to spend time with each other, to work hard and train together and then have a fun meet together at the end of the week, it was rewarding.”

The men’s squad, which had been undefeated before the FIU meet, will swim in just three more dual meets this season before the conference and national championships appear on the schedule.

For the lady Lakers, rated No. 9 in the most recent CollegeSwimming.com/CSCAA coaches poll, and men, ranked No. 5, the swim forward begins Saturday, back in the snow, with a trip down to Detroit to swim against GLIAC rival Wayne State University.

“Wayne State is our archrival and this will be one of our biggest meets of the year,” Boyce said. “It’s a meet that both teams really get up for and mark on their schedule. It’s two of the top programs in Division II going at it, some great swimming and diving going head to head and it’ll be fun to see both teams go after each other.

“So far this year, we’ve been swimming and diving incredibly well. We’re faster at this point in the season than we’ve ever been and I’m really excited to see what we can do.”

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