Small senior group sits at forefront of swim and dive teams

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter
A member of the womens swim team participates in a race

GVL Archive / Eric Coulter A member of the women’s swim team participates in a race

Jon Adamy

In their quest to repeat top-10 finishes at nationals, Grand Valley State University’s men’s and women’s swim teams are led by a small and tight-knit group of seniors.

Only five women and four men make up the senior class on each respective teams, but their contributions in and out of the pool have been a major part of their team’s success this year, said GVSU head coach Andy Boyce.

“(The seniors) stepped up into a leadership role and really welcomed the large freshmen class,” he said. “We have a lot of them who look up to those seniors and have aspirations of going to nationals this year as well.”

During the past four years, the swimming program at GVSU has experienced a rise to prominence on a national level thanks in part to the contributions of the seniors in and out of the pool.

“The level of competition here has changed quite a bit since our freshmen year,” said senior Jordan Schrotenboer. “It’s basically not the same team it was when we came here. The level of competition is just a lot higher than it was.”

The seniors said they have not found it easy to compete at such a high level and balance a class load at the same time.

“It’s mostly scheduling and trying to get all my classes worked around all the practice and meet times,” said Justin Pattermann, a senior mechanical engineering major. “It was really tricky for me to follow the curriculum laid out for engineering and compete in a sport all four years.”

The senior group said Boyce, who coaches both the men’s and women’s teams, was there for them when it came to help in and out of the pool.

“We are all really close with (Boyce). We can joke with him. We come to practice and we have fun,” said senior Erin Lynch. “He understands our school schedules and that the classroom comes first and not just swimming, so he makes sure we have time for that.”

Boyce said what stood out most to him about the senior class was the group’s work ethic, even as underclassmen. He noted the athletes’ level of improvement since coming out of high school. He said even those who were not the best as freshmen have worked their way to successful careers.

“They come in and they put their time in. They’re hard workers and they come in and push themselves in practice every day as well as other team members,” Boyce said. “They’ve done that since their freshman year.”

The work ethic provided by the senior class throughout their four years helped propel them to top-10 finishes for both the men and the women at the NCAA Championships last season.

“Being up on the podium at nationals and holding that fourth place trophy last year, that was a really great feeling,” Pattermann said. “So I’m looking forward to it again this year.”

The teams share more than just memories from competition because they rarely part from each other even outside of the pool.

“I think our team is like a family,” Boyce said. “They all get along well, and they do a lot of things together, and they have a lot of fun together in and out of the pool.”

Lynch said the group’s support of each other helps them make it through meets and practices. Even though the men’s and women’s teams are technically separate, the seniors are still close with each other across their respective teams.

“We’re definitely very close. We practice together, we hang out together, we’re in classes together. We really don’t get away from each other too much,” said senior Kim Baughman. “Pretty much the only thing that really differs is that we don’t score points for each other.”

Boyce said the senior group has made a name for themselves, and many of the freshmen on the team want to be where the senior class is someday.

“Some of them have been in nationals – this would be their fourth time going,” Boyce said. “Last year’s senior group and this year’s senior group have really started to make a name for themselves at the national level, and they just keep on getting better.”

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