After a very long and successful season, the Grand Valley State University (20-4) swimming and diving team will face their toughest competition so far this year. Next week, Feb. 19-22, the team will be in Saginaw, Michigan for the GLIAC Championships.
This season has been outstanding for the team. After finishing 17-3 last season, the Lakers have won three more games. Grand Valley State has also had several swimmers break records and reach individual milestones.
Sophomore distance swimmer Jesse Goodyear broke the mile record for the team during the mid-season at Calvin college. Sophomore Keegan Hawkins broke the school record in the 400-IM. Senior Harry Shalamon is currently second in the nation in the 200-yard backstroke after winning the national championship in the same event last year.
For the women’s team, senior Melina Goebel has continued to dominate her freestyle and butterfly events. On the diving side of things, senior Mikayla Karasek has been on top of the leaderboard for the Lakers all season.
The Lakers have also had several close and fiercely battled meets. Two of their most exciting meets ended in victories for the Lakers. Grand Valley took on Northern Michigan University in November at home.
Both the men’s and women’s teams won 206-94 and 159-141, respectively. Later in the season, GVSU again won against another in-state rival in Wayne State. In Detroit a few weeks ago, the men’s team won 157-142, and the women won 171.5-127.5. After working hard all season, the team has calmed their rigorous practice during the past couple of weeks.
“We’ve been cutting back on the amount of yards we’ve been swimming in practice,” said GVSU coach Andy Boyce. “We cut out morning practices for most of the swimmers last week. The swimmers we know that have qualified for nationals have been doing a little bit more of swimming this week because they don’t need as much rest to do well in conference. If they get too much rest this week, they might not swim as well at the conference.”
Goodyear said that practices have given him and some of his teammates the motivation to keep pushing themselves during competitions.
“A lot of the sprinters have been held back this week and going a lot easier in practice and letting their bodies rest,” Goodyear said. “A lot of us distance swimmers are still doing a fair bit of yards just to keep our bodies moving. We don’t want to lose any fitness coming into the meet. Overall the, sprinters are feeling great. I’m not sure about some of the distance swimmers are feeling, but most like me are feeling great. I’m excited.”
Last year at the GLIAC championship, the Lakers performed extremely well. They swept all the competition with men and women both finishing first. The men’s team scored a total 853.5 and the women finished with 944.5. It was the fifth year in a row that the men have won the event, and the second time in three years that Grand Valley won both crowns at the event. This year, the team is hoping for much of the same.
“I’m expecting to have a lot of national placements and more school records at the GLIAC championship,” Boyce said. “We’ll have a good battle for the conference championship with Northern Michigan and Wayne State. It will be a fun three way meet for both teams. We’re hoping to come out on top again like the last five years.”
While the competition may be fierce, the Lakers have been preparing all year for this event and are ready. After beating NMU and Wayne earlier this year, they believe they have what it takes to do it one more time this season.
“The competition is very hard so we can’t be relaxed,” Goodyear said. “Everyday we have to be on top of things during practices to get prepared. The team knows that and we’re prepared. I think we’re very excited but nervous.”
On Saturday Feb. 22 the results from the GLIAC championship will be announced. In addition to the winners, the national cut’s list will be presented. The Lakers will soon see which swimmers will be competing at nationals this year in March.