GV swim team has international flavor
GVL/Bo Anderson & Robert Matthews
Grand Valley State University has a reputation for having strong athletic programs – a reputation that even extends overseas.
The GVSU men’s swim team currently features four athletes that hail from other countries: Freshman Juan Delgado (Venezuela), sophomores Milan Medo (Slovakia) and Sven Kardol (Netherlands), and junior Erik Aakesson (Sweden).
How these athletes end up at GVSU is an example of how the Internet can be a powerful recruiting tool.
“I talk to some of the guys mainly through email and things like that,” said head coach Andy Boyce. “I’ll give some of them a call, tell them about the school, and tell them about the team and they end up coming to Grand Valley, which is nice to see.”
It is common for recruiting agencies to help student athletes overseas find colleges that fit what they’re looking for in a potential university. From there, students can look at a list and decide what schools they want to apply for.
“There’s a student organization that helped me find a place in the states that lets me do what I wanted to do in school and also has a good sports program,” Kardol said. “They gave me a list with nine schools on it and I applied at four schools. One of them was Grand Valley and I absolutely loved it.”
For Medo, GVSU was not his first choice. Medo initially wanted to compete at the Division I level, but when that was not an option for him, he became interested in the strong swim tradition at GVSU.
“I was trying to get into a Division I school for swimming, but I wasn’t receiving any real good offers,” Medo said. “I heard about Grand Valley online. I found it on collegeswimming.com. I checked the rankings for the men’s swimming team and Grand Valley was ranked pretty high. I sent an email to the coach with my times and he was interested in getting me there and I was interested in going there.”
Swimming at GVSU is vastly different for Medo and Kardol compared to their homelands. For Kardol, he has found the competition to be more consistently difficult.
“Competition is different here,” he said. “When I’m home, I’d race against kids from ages 8 to 25 or older. Back home I could swim against an eight year old. It’s definitely more competitive here. Everyone’s at the same level. Honestly, it’s more fun to be here and compete than it is to be back home and compete.”
Making a potential recruit feel comfortable and wanted is always important. For Boyce and GVSU, it can be more tricky when visiting with potential recruits is nearly impossible.
“I saw he was real interested in me and Coach Boyce actually called me on my phone,” Medo said. “I really had a good feeling about it and him. I’m really confident I made a good decision that I came here.”
GVSU is not the only school that has international people on their roster. If you look at the swim rosters of other schools in the GLIAC, you will see that it isn’t all that rare to see international athletes.
“It’s commonplace,” Boyce said. “Ashland has several guys from overseas. Wayne State has a good portion of their team, men and women that is international as well.”