Swim and dive teams prepare for nationals

GVL/Bo Anderson

Hailey LaBar swims the backstroke.

Bo Anderson

GVL/Bo Anderson Hailey LaBar swims the backstroke.

Jay Bushen

The Grand Valley State University swimming and diving teams hope their spring break trip to Alabama will be more than just a temporary escape from the snow.

GVSU will hope for success at the CrossPlex Complex in Birmingham, Ala. next week while competing in the 2013 NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships.

GVSU head coach Andy Boyce expects his team’s standouts to perform at a high level.

“We just have to stay focused,” Boyce said. “We don’t have as many qualifiers as we’ve had in the past, but the ones we have are strong in their events.”

The women’s team recently came away from the GLIAC Championships with a fourth-place finish, and saw solid performances on the individual level.

The No. 17 Lakers were led by junior record-holder Caitlyn Madsen, who was the lone individual event winner for GVSU. Madsen captured a victory in the 200 fly with a time of 2 minutes, 3.32 seconds, and broke her own school record in the 100 fly when she touched second with a time of 55.85.
“I am going to prepare the same way for nationals as I would for any other meet,” Madsen said. “This year I’m into it thinking that I’m on the same level as everyone else.”

She and classmate Danielle Vallier will both have four opportunities, two individual events and two relays, to make their mark at the competition. The pair of captains will be joined by sophomores Olivia Schultz and Sarah Roeser in the team’s fourth-seeded (1:43.90) medley relay team and sixth-seeded (3:47.92) 400 medley relay team.

The women’s diving team will also hope to be at their best on the 1-meter board behind senior captain Jasmine Ramahi, junior Katie Vulpetti and freshman Taylor Wiercinski.

On the men’s side, the No. 15 Lakers team walked away from the conference championships with a second-place finish after a late rally to catch Wayne State University fell just short.

Six members of the team will represent GVSU in their events: junior Erik Aakesson (one event), freshman Gianni Ferrero (four events), junior Michael Griffith (three events), sophomore Sven Kardol (two events), junior Aaron Marken (three events) and sophomore Milan Medo (one event).

Ferrero provided a huge boost to the team when he transferred to GVSU at the start of the semester from Idstein, Germany. In the month of January, he managed to win ten individual events while breaking a number of school records.

His NCAA “A” cut time of 1:37.46 earned him the third highest seed in the 200 freestyle, while his sixth-seeded time of 1:47.95 in the 200 IM notched another “A” cut time. The freshman said his career is just getting started.

“I still have to prove that I’m one of the best,” Ferrero said. “I want to show everyone what I’m capable of.”

Griffith has also been a major contributor to the team’s success in 2013. He finished in the top three of all seven events he competed in at the conference championships, touching first in the 100 fly with a time of 48.75 while taking part in three first-place relays.

The second-seeded 200 medley relay team (Aakesson, Ferrero, Griffith and Marken) posted an “A” cut time of 1:28.31 earlier in the season, while the 400 medley relay team (Ferrero, Griffith, Marken and Medo) also earned a high seed with a time of 3:16.58, which is the fourth-best Division II time.

“The competition is getting better every year,” Boyce said. “D2 is faster than it’s ever been, but we’re really looking forward to posting some good times and seeing where we land as a team.”

The diving qualification meet will happen on Tuesday at 9 a.m. before the 2013 NCAA Division II Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, which run from Wednesday through Saturday.
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