GVSU swim and dive preps for GLIAC meet

Elise Tatchell swims butterfly during a swimmeat against Findlay on Jan 23 in Allendale, MI.

Kasey Garvelink

Elise Tatchell swims butterfly during a swimmeat against Findlay on Jan 23 in Allendale, MI.

Brady McAtamney

College sports seasons are winding roads filled with highs, lows and just about everything in between. From the first practice of the year to the last, student-athletes work to achieve one common goal: win a championship.

For the Grand Valley State swim and dive team, a championship is finally within reach for both the men’s and women’s teams.

The men’s squad, having gone a flawless 9-0, will look to repeat as champions at this year’s GLIAC championship meet, while the women, who sustained only one out-of-conference loss, will seek their first title since the 2008-09 season.

After such a successful regular season, it would be easy for the swimmers and divers to put on a pompous attitude and throw the title in the bag. But the Lakers know this is not the case.

“We realize that all of our competitors are working just as hard as we are, and we know that they’re all going to show up at the conference championship,” said sophomore Julia Suriano. “We’re trying to make sure that we’re doing everything right, to do our best, and not get ahead of ourselves.”

GVSU assistant coach Justin Vasquez pinpointed the team’s humility down to one thing: having a common goal.

“They want to win a conference championship. They know they have to put the work in every day to get there,” he said. “They’re definitely confident – there’s a line between confident and cocky. They’re feeling good about themselves, and you see it in practice. They’re staying focused on winning a conference championship and working hard.”

The Lakers know the lanes to the championship won’t be free of obstacles, with teams like Wayne State and Northern Michigan smelling blood in the water. The men’s team has gone back and forth with the Warriors in the past several seasons, while the women often have found themselves struggling with WSU. Although GVSU emerged victorious over both the Warriors and Wildcats this season, it knows opponents will be gunning for an upset.

During the next few weeks leading up to the big meet, the Lakers will continue the hard work they have put in over the season, but with a slight twist.

“We’ll have our last regular week of practice, then a 10-day taper. Every three days we’ll drop roughly 20 percent of our volume. That’s how the distance group will get ready to go,” Vazquez said. “We’ll keep intensity up but maintain our rest interval, keep them fresh for the conference championships. Everybody that’s not distance will start resting today, so they’re on a bit of a two-week taper.”

This approach is being taken by coaches to keep swimmers well-rested and fresh, while also maintaining the feeling of being in a competitive pool state and maintaining their tip-top physical fitness.

Physical preparation, however, is not the only area of work the units will focus on, as mental approach is just as much of a priority. Getting plenty of sleep is crucial to the athletes in doing their best once the big meet comes around, as is eating right and staying hydrated. The Lakers will also begin visualization, which they know is critical to their success.

While expectations are being monitored to avoid cockiness, the Lakers do anticipate seeing quality performances across the board.

“I expect to see everyone shine. Everyone on the men’s side has been going hard and training well. I could go through all the guys, we’re ready to go and get it done,” said sophomore Grant Borregard.

Suriano had similar praise for the women’s unit.

“On our girl’s side, I think everyone plays an essential role. We push each other every day. I think we’re going to have great swims and everyone is going to play a key role at conference championships.”

While the team continues to work, the coaches have a tough task ahead of them, as they must select the swimmers and divers they wish to have compete for GVSU at the event. According to Vasquez, the girl’s team will bring 17 swimmers and three divers, while the men will usher 16 swimmers and four divers.

Vasquez noted that, because of the depth each team has to offer, it will be extremely difficult to select which swimmers and divers hit the road – and the water – and which will stay behind and cheer their teammates on. He said the announcement will come later this week.

The GLIAC championships will run from Feb. 10-13 at Waterford Mott High School.