Season in review: GVSU swimming, diving
It’s hard to pick a defining moment of this past swimming and diving season at Grand Valley State.
This year's season came to a close after the men's team finished 11th at the NCAA National Championships, while the women finished 15th.
However, if there is one word that defines the GVSU team, it’s family.
Senior Rachel Eaton recalls her experience in the water as if she never left the pool. During her one-mile race, she felt her limbs tensing up and fatigue setting in. But she remembers that she just kept swimming to the finish line, motivated by the voices outside the pool cheering her on.
“When I was breathing every time, I would see my team screaming,” Eaton said. “It makes you want to swim that much faster.”
GVSU proved to bring a mentality that is fairly rare in an individual sport like swimming, but that mentality highlighted how tough it is to beat someone who is racing for something more than themselves.
The men won another GLIAC Championship, which was their main goal for the season. The women finished as the runner-up, losing to Wayne State on the very last day, but still qualified to compete in the NCAA National Championship.
However, the competition was too much for the young group of athletes from GVSU, as the men placed 11th and the women finished 15th overall.
“It’s a very competitive meet,” said head coach Andy Boyce. “We did not place as high as we wanted, but we swam well and dove well. The competition was intense.”
It was not the ending the seniors wanted, but with a team filled with first-year students, GVSU represented Laker Nation to the best of their ability.
“We were nervous because they almost take half of our team,” Eaton said. “All of them bring something different to the team, but watching them blossom has been a very cool experience.”
Another word that defines this team is resilience. According to Boyce, his swimmers and divers never quit, and they never shied away from the challenges ahead of them. No matter how early the practices started or how late they would end, Boyce’s team never gave up, always giving everything they had.
“We always push through,” Boyce said. “Some of the meets are long: Conference and nationals are both four-day meets. Even if they had a bad swim, they would get back and improve their time. We still won a conference title for the men, runner-up for the women, and we qualified 22 athletes for nationals, which is a pretty big group.”
The future looks bright for this young GVSU team, and after a season like the one they’ve had, it is time for the Lakers to put their name on the national stage. For that, they will need to keep their values intact and their work ethic as strong as they’ve done in the past, but at the end of the day, there is nothing like being a swimmer or diver for GVSU.
“We always say our goal is to win conference, and we set our expectations really high, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Eaton said. “Every single dual meet, just watching everyone come together and push through the mental and physical exhaustion, it really makes you proud to be a Laker.”