Swim and dive continues its strong start to the season

Autumn Burin

Different pool. Different Competition. Same relentless spirit.

The Grand Valley State University men’s and women’s swim and dive team traveled to Muncie, Ind., for the Ball State Doug Coers Invitational this weekend with courage and strength, and they left exhausted but proud.

A normal three-day invitational was packed into two, making the competition not the only thing to overcome.

Some Laker athletes competed in as much as eight races over a 24-hour span. Their efforts were not in vain. The Laker men claimed first place with 253 points, and Ball State University trailed behind them with 184.5 points. The University of Findlay finished last with 76.5 points.

The Laker women came in second behind Ball State University (251 points) with 188 points, leaving the University of Findlay in last with 87 points.

“It was a good showing for sure,” GVSU head coach Andy Boyce said. “A lot of swimming in 24 hours. A lot of racing. A lot of tired swimmers and divers.”

Senior Danielle Vallier was part of the winning 200 freestyle relay along with juniors Sarah Roeser, Olivia Shultz and Emily Eaton with a final time of 1 minute, 38.29 seconds. Vallier went on to win the 200 IM with a time of 2:10.67.

“I was most proud of my part in the 200 IM,” Vallier said. “Our whole team has been training really hard these past few weeks, and we went after it during our races. They all have something to be proud of.”

For the Laker men, junior Milan Medo, freshman Danny Abbott and seniors Erik Aakesson and Micheal Griffith won the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:22.20. Sophomore Nick Zacek won the 500 freestyle with 4:51.93. Gianni Ferrero won the 200 IM in 1:54.99. Also, Ferrero, Griffith, Medo and senior Aaron Marken won the 400 medley relay with a time of 3:31.79.

“I was proud of the entire team’s performance this weekend,” Aakesson said. “It was a tough week of training and we were all very tired, but we swam very well.”

Aakesson wasn’t the only one who was proud of his team’s performance. Boyce said he is confident his team fought it out all weekend and worked hard even when they were to the point of exhaustion.

“They stayed focused both on the board and in the pool. They pushed all the way through the meet,” he said.

He added that these constant meets against many different teams will only help the team in the long run. To him, it’s good training and experience for the conference and national championships down the road.

But those are far down the road, and with the Ball State Doug Coers Invitational completed, Boyce and his athletes are now preparing for the long-awaited mid-season taper meet against Calvin College, finally getting the chance to cut back on their training.

“We are getting ready to rest for the Calvin Invitational and waiting to really drop times,” Boyce said.

Monday and Tuesday will continue as normal training-wise for the team, but then the swimmers will be responsible to continue their workouts over Thanksgiving Break.

“They’ll hold on for a little bit during the break,” Boyce said. “Then they will come back for a solid week of training. Finally, we gradually drop down the yards and focus more on technique and sprint.”

Boyce has no doubt that his athletes will continue their training during the upcoming break. They have too much resting on the Calvin Invite.

“We have been gunning for that all semester so we are really looking forward to this meet,” he said.

[email protected]