Abbott leads by example for GVSU swim and dive

GVL / Emily Frye    
Danny Abbott during the Black and Blue Meet on Saturday Oct. 6, 2016.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Danny Abbott during the Black and Blue Meet on Saturday Oct. 6, 2016.

Jake Carroll

Danny Abbott has been proudly wearing the Grand Valley State logo for four years in the swimming pool. He has been swimming under the direction of GVSU coach Andy Boyce all four of those years. He’s won countless honors, including GLIAC Swimmer of the Week last week. This season, he’s hunting for more.

Abbott is on his way to improve upon what was a fantastic season for him last spring. He logged four top three finishes in the GLIAC championship last season in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:21.39), the 400-yard medley relay (3:14.32), the 100-yard freestyle (45.15) and the 50-yard freestyle (20.77).

Abbott has been to the national championship each year he’s been at GVSU. However, toward the end of his freshman year at the national tournament, he noticed something wasn’t quite right.

“My shoulder just really started hurting,” Abbott said. “When I went home for the summer and talked to the doctor, he told me surgery was probably the best option.”

Abbott had a bone spur in his right shoulder, an important part of the body for a swimmer. A bone spur is excess bone growth, and in his case the excess bone was pushing against muscle tissue or possibly another bone, causing discomfort.

Many people who have bone spurs don’t even know they have them because they don’t rub against the surrounding tissue, therefore the spurs just lay dormant.

“The doctor gave me a cortisone shot and that didn’t do anything,” Abbott said. “So he set up an MRI, and then we just went from there.”

Abbott had the surgery performed the August before his sophomore year. The surgery did not call for a long recovery period as it was only three months, but Abbott still feels some discomfort even three years later.

Abbott is continually working with team trainers and doing therapy to stay at the top of his game.

“You wouldn’t know he was injured,” said Laker women’s team captain Meghan Falconer about Abbott’s injury. “I know because I see him with the trainer every day and I see the exercises he does. He really does everything he can to help with his injury.”

Abbott has not only recovered well from his injury that came his freshman year, but he thrived and has shown consistent improvement on his performance. After his injury, he has won 12 GLIAC championship races, finishing in the top five.

He also finished in the top 10 at the 2016 NCAA championships by swimming a school record of 2:56.43 in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

Abbott has been selected as a captain this year for the men’s team because of his leadership ability after his injury.

“Obviously, the injury stops him from doing certain things in the pool,” said Abbott’s teammate Ben Walling. “But he doesn’t let that stop him from trying. He doesn’t let his injury stop him from throwing down good times.”

Walling and Falconer said Abbott’s ability to lead by example makes him an effective leader, and know recovering from shoulder surgery can be hard to work through, especially for a swimmer.

“He’s not the loudest one out there,” Walling said. “If he sees someone screwing around or not doing what they’re supposed to he will talk with them or talk it up with the coaches.”

When Boyce was asked how he feels about having Abbot in the lineup, Boyce said he has the utmost confidence.

“It’s nice to have that sprinter, for sure,” Boyce said. “He helps in the relays too and he could be in any relay out there.”

The next time Abbott will be showcasing his skills in the pool will be against Ball State Saturday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. in the Allendale Fieldhouse pool.