GVSU swimming and diving trains in Florida over winter break

GVL/ Spencer Scarber 
Hannah Richard competes against teammates during the Blue and Black meet on October 7, 2017.

GVL/ Spencer Scarber Hannah Richard competes against teammates during the Blue and Black meet on October 7, 2017.

Louis Ricard

Winter break may have been snowy for most Grand Valley State students, but some lucky student athletes got the chance to come back with a few tan lines—and a ton of memories.

The GVSU men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams traveled down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a week of intense training at Nova Southeastern University. For head coach Andy Boyce, this trip is a great opportunity for his athletes to improve. 

“We fundraise for the trip, and it’s my goal to go every year,” Boyce said. “It is always good to get out of the cool weather, and you don’t have classes, so you can focus on getting a good work in.”

Not only did the men and women put the work in, but the team embraced it. Practices lasted two to three hours in the morning and resumed in the evening from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., giving the athletes a new experience in the pool. Junior J.D. Ham truly enjoyed these late practices, even describing them as some of his favorite memories from the trip.

Although they spent most of their day under the water, the team did not forget where they traveled

“When training at Grand Valley, you’re swimming in the cold,” Ham said. “It’s a lot different when you go down in the warm weather ’cause it’s so nice every day. You come back and go to the beach. There is always something going on out there. It’s a good time.”

GVSU ended its week with a meet against Nova Southeastern and Williams Jewell, and ended up splitting the results. On the men’s side, GVSU won against Williams Jewell 174-118 but couldn’t repeat that performance against Nova, losing 173-89. The women dominated Williams Jewell with a score of 201.5-60.5 while also losing against Nova 190-72.

The swimming and diving teams are composed of a unique group of people for GVSU. For Boyce, this trip meant more than just improving the skills of his athletes. 

“It’s really important as a team to get know each other and know how to push each other in and out of the pool,” Boyce said. “I think that’s what makes us strong as a team: We have people from all over, but we’re one family for them away from home.”

That sense of family is shared by his swimmers, who have welcomed the international students into the team with open arms. 

“I had one of them in my room, and you get to know them pretty well,” Ham said. “I went and visited Gonzalo on the team my freshman year over in Spain where he’s from.”

The team balanced fun and work to perfection, according to the coach, and when it came down to training, GVSU answered the bell. Boyce summed up the trip in one word. 

“Perseverance,” Boyce said. “Our team worked hard all the way through, pushed each other at practice, and our goal is to get that conference title and to compete on a national level. They were perseverant all the way throughout their training, and now that we’re back home, it should be a little easier for them.”

It will be easier for the team, as they do not have to endure five hours of practice on a daily basis. However, it is time to buckle down, as GVSU has high hopes for their season. Boyce thinks it will be a close one. 

“The conference has been going back and forth between Wayne State and Grand Valley for as long as I’ve been here, and I’ve been here for 14 years,” Boyce said. “Northern is also getting into the mix, so it should be exciting.”

GVSU did not seem to care much for Wayne State this past weekend, as they swept the Warriors 178-118 and 159-141. 

“Both teams were probably tired from their training trips, but it’s really encouraging,” Boyce said. “Wayne State is one of our biggest foes. To come away with both the men and women’s wins was nice.”

Boyce hopes this momentum can carry on to the next meet at home against Findlay this weekend and in Indianapolis the following week.