Spring Lake hosts its annual invitational on Saturday (9 a.m.), before heading to the Grand Rapids Christian Quad on Thursday (6:30 p.m.).
The Lakers will see Fremont, Northview, Ludington, Mona Shores and Manistee at Spring Lake High School this weekend.
While the team counts Manistee as a conference rival, Spring Lake is most keen on defeating Northview. The Wildcats, who are among the other teams receiving votes in Division 2, have won the Spring Lake Invitational in all three years of Jason Lintjer’s tenure as the Lakers’ head coach.
“We’ve gotten second three years in a row, and Northview has won it all three years,” Lintjer said. “We really want to win it. That was one of our goals this season, to win this invite. It’s at home, it’s one of our biggest meets.
“… I think this might be the year. We obviously have to swim very well. Northview is a great team in Division 2. It’s going to be a tough one for us, but if we swim very well we’ll have a chance. We’ll see.”
Lintjer said that Northview’s location has helped it become one of the better programs in the state.
“They have a lot of good club teams (in the Grand Rapids area), they have a good YMCA team in downtown Grand Rapids,” Lintjer said. “That’s just kind of the affect of that. Forest Hills Central, Forest Hills Northern, Northview, Grand Rapids Christian — all of those teams are good because of that.”
Spring Lake, who is one of the other teams receiving votes in Division 3 will see Holland, Hamilton and the host Eagles on Thursday. Holland is one of the others receiving votes in Division 2, while Hamilton (No. 4) and Grand Rapids Christian (No. 5) are both ranked in Division 3.
“That’s going to be a huge one for us,” Lintjer said. “Last year we beat Hamilton 94-92, on the last race of the meet at home. … Grand Rapids Christian, we’ve seen them at various invites and we’re always very close. And we’ve never actually swam against Holland since I’ve been here.
“It’s an interesting dynamic. There are a lot of good teams. There’s going to be a lot of fast swimming, so it’s going to be pretty exciting.”
Lintjer, a former Michigan State swimmer, shares a similar philosophy to the university’s basketball coach when it comes to scheduling.
“That’s by design,” Lintjer said. “We do that on purpose because it prepares us better for the conference and the state meet. Swimming against lesser competition sets you up for failure in the (later) meets, especially the state meet. If you swim against really great teams and these invites that kind of simulate that kind of competition, it just kind of prepares you for later in the season. No doubt, there is no doubt in my mind.
“It’s kind of like the model with Tom Izzo. He plays against really great teams early in the season, and consequently they end up playing really well at the end of the season. (When) you play against good competition you kind of play up to them. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”