Lakers, Packers ‘Swim for Hope’

Matt DeYoung • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:22 AM

So Rick, a senior on the Lakers’ varsity swimming and diving team, was the driving force behind “Swimming for Hope,” and in the process raised well over $1,200.

“I don’t really know anyone with cancer,” Rick said. “I just thought of the football teams and how they always put on a cancer game. I really wanted to put on one for swimming for a cause, just for one meet. It felt right. It felt like the right thing to do.”

So with the support of his teammates and coaches, Rick went out trying to gather donations. It was rough going early on.

“I had big help from Jesse Ruiter and Trevor Billinghurst, and also Coach (Tom) Knight,” Rick said. “Coach Knight called a lot of people and they donated a ton of money, then Trevor and Jesse helped me come up with the idea of buying a lane. That really got us started.

“When I went out and asked for donations, that didn’t really work, but when we had them buy lanes, that really put a price on it, and they donated.”

There was also a T-shirt sale, and according to Rick, every shirt was sold before the first event began for Thursday’s meet against Fremont.

The money raised was donated to Bluebird Cancer Retreats of West Michigan, a local organization that strives to provide hope and respite for adults who have been diagnosed with cancer.

“We didn’t want to do a big organization because a lot of people donate there,” Rick said. “We wanted to find one place, and Bluebird Cancer Retreat is in Grand Haven. It’s close to us, and it feels like it makes more of a difference.

“It’s more special when we’re raising it for something closer to us.”

Rick said that planning the event was quite stressful, but he’s thrilled with how things turned out.

“It was a great feeling,” said Rick, who plans to attend either Michigan or Hope College next year.

As for the meet itself, Spring Lake swam away with an easy 112-64 win over visiting Fremont.

A highlight of the meet for the home team was Blake Henning’s showing in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 butterfly.

“Blake is really coming along,” said coach Penny Zacek. “He’s one of those workhorses who gives it his all. He wants to improve, so he makes necessary changes in his stroke and race strategy to make those time drops happen.”

In addition, James Jensen had strong swims in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke.

“He has had a terrific week at practice and it showed tonight,” Zacek said.

The Lakers return to the pool at home against South Haven next Tuesday, then visit Manistee next Thursday.

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