Local swimmers shine at state meet

Matt DeYoung • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:53 PM

The Shoreline Lightning swimmers scorched the pool at last weekend’s 14-and-under Long Course Meter Swimming Championships at Eastern Michigan University.

The Lightning Swimming state team — comprised of Kevin Losee, Joey Wachter, Kathryn Ackerman, Alonna Clark, Jess Boyer and Grace Ackerman — earned 236 points, good for 13th place overall at the three-day event.

The team was led by overall high point state male champion Kevin Losee, 12, of Spring Lake, who won five events.

In addition, Grand Haven’s Kathryn Ackerman, 12, of Grand Haven, medaled in five events, while Spring Lake’s Wachter, 11, placed in the top 16 in six events.

“All Lightning swimmers were in top form with personal-best time swims just about every race,” said coach Rich Riopelle. “Not easy to do in a pressure-packed morning preliminary, evening finals format over three long days.”

Losee put together a memorable state meet, winning the 200-meter butterfly in a time of 2 minutes, 31.06 seconds, a top 50 time in the nation for his age group. He was the only swimmer to go under a minute in the 100 freestyle, finishing in 59.33 seconds, and his winning time of 29.85 in the 50 butterfly was also outstanding.

Losee also won the 200 freestyle and the 200 butterfly, and finished a close second in the 50 freestyle.

He said he approached this event with a different mentality than the short course state finals earlier this summer.

“At the short course meet, I was not trying to get first in every race,” he said. “I was just taking it all in, the cool experience overall,” said Losee, who is ranked No. 1 in the state and the Midwest and top 50 nationally for his age group. “But this state meet, it was all about getting the best times, getting No. 1. They would marshal us in for each race, which was cool, but I was just trying to keep focused, get mentally ready for each race.”

The competitive young man wasn’t satisfied with tying for the top overall points getter at the event.

“I was really happy with the state meet, but I think I could have done better,” he said. “I had a bar start, slow of the blocks, and that cost me in the 50 freestyle. I tied someone for high points. I really would have liked to been there by myself.”

Ackerman said she was pleasantly surprised by her performance at the state finals.

“I wasn’t really expecting to get top eight in so many events,” she said. “I finished third in a couple events, so I was really excited. It’s really fun to be a part of the team.”

Ackerman was third in the 200 backstroke in 2:55.56, and also finished third in the 200 individual medley in 2:37.25.

Wachter placed sixth overall and earned a Zone (regional) cut time in the 200 backstroke in 2:38.20.

Losee, Ackerman and Wachter will represent Lightning Swimming with Team Michigan and this weekend’s Central Zone meet in Ohio. Both Losee and Ackerman will compete in six events, plus relays.

“That one’s not going to be as easy as the state meet,” Losee said. “It’s going to be much harder. It’s first-place teams from every state. In some of the events, I have a pretty good shot at. I think I can be top eight in everything if I swim well and am mentally prepared.”

“It’s going to be a lot tougher,” added Ackerman. “A lot of the kids are really fast. I don’t know how fast I am compared to them.”

In addition, Lightning Swim members Charlotte Lee, 16, Meghan Peel, 15, and Jennifer Meulenbelt, 15, all of Spring Lake, will compete at the Open State Meet in Holland.

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