GVSU swimming and diving hope to repeat success at GLIAC Championship
It’s been a long road for the Grand Valley State swimming and diving teams, but this week is the time to shift gears and focus.
GVSU will be competing in the GLIAC Championship in Jenison, Michigan, from Wednesday, Feb 14, till Saturday, Feb. 17. Both the men’s and the women’s teams hope to repeat and be crowned GLIAC champions for the second consecutive season. Although this year turned out to be challenging for both groups, GVSU is ready to take on the competition and make a splash in Jenison.
The word of this past week is simple, yet crucial: “healthy.” Head coach Andy Boyce wants his team to be as rested and as healthy as possible so that both groups can perform to the best of their abilities. However, with a young group like his, Boyce has to make sure everyone is on top of their emotions and not vice versa.
“We’re pretty relaxed, a little excited," Boyce said. “We don’t want to be too excited because you can psych yourself out. We cut out morning practices last week, so we should be feeling pretty rested.”
Junior Ben Walling—competing in the sprint freestyle and back events—is entering his third year with the team and hopes to be able to bring back another trophy to the Fieldhouse in Allendale. This year, however, Walling knows GVSU has a target on its back.
“We battled against Northern (Michigan University) and won last year, so they probably kept us in (their) thoughts,” Walling said.
Northern is not the only team that wants to dethrone GVSU, however. Wayne State has been a rival for several years now, and the three teams are expected to battle it out to decide the one true champion.
“I believe we still have the upper hand thanks to our depth,” Walling said. “We do have a lot of freshmen. I think half of our team is in their first year, so it’s our job as juniors and seniors to help them get ready for this week.”
As young as they may be, the freshman class is as talented as any, including German phenomenon Moritz Bartels who competes in the distance freestyle and the individual medley. The freshman already broke the mile record in his first year and is expected to compete at the highest level.
On the women’s side of things, Boyce expects Melina Goebel to give her team a chance to win a second trophy in as many years. Goebel swims in the distance freestyle and the fly, and could potentially win both events if things go her way.
Depth will be a key factor in GVSU’s swim to victory, as the team has the deepest roster out of all six contestants that include Ashland, Tiffin, Northern, Wayne State and Saginaw Valley State.
The GLIAC Championship is the next big circle on GVSU’s calendar, but the big finale still awaits as the National Championship approaches. In order to have a chance to win their first trophy, Walding, Goebel and company will need to be at their best at the GLIAC Championship.