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Fall Sports Preview: Girls Swimming

Nich Wolak • Aug 25, 2016 at 3:00 AM

The Spring Lake swimming team has a senior-laden squad in 2016, ready to make the leap from the Coastal Conference to the O-K Blue. Grand Haven will face a tough O-K Red once again, but retains most of its top swimmers — with a strong freshmen class coming in.

SPRING LAKE

Last year: Won the Coastal Conference; Finished 11th at state meet

Key seniors

Meghan Peel (Fourth in the state in the 100-meter freestyle and 100 backstroke; part of the sixth-place 200 medley relay)

Jen Meulenbelt (Seventh, 200 individual medley; sixth, 100 breaststroke; part of the sixth-place 200 medley relay)

Annie Brechting (Part of the sixth-place 200 medley relay)

Allison Brown (Swims backstroke and distance freestyle)

Quoting coach Ellen Wiese on the seniors: “They're excellent leaders, all of them. If you look at their grades, they all have good grades. They are all in band and choir and have jobs, they manage them. Last week at Ludington went smoothly, and that's a credit to the senior class. Girls knew what they were doing and hardly anybody had to ask me. The seniors are stepping up.”

Wiese on switching from the Coastal Conference to the O-K Blue: “We are in a new conference, as well as me being a new coach. I'd like to establish our place in (the O-K Blue). We left our old conference on top. ... We're in one of the top conferences in the state. It's way more of a challenge this year, I hope we're going to be somewhere in the middle (this year). I think we can do that, but it's up in the air. I haven’t swam many of these teams before. It’s going to be a learned experience as we go through it.”

On what she’s learned as an assistant under former girls coach Penny Zacek and current boys coach Jason Lintjer: “They both are very good coaches and both have different coaching philosophies. I think I have kind of encompassed a mesh of both. I’d say Penny was a bit more about the team and Jason more individual. I've been trying to adopt and mix both. They're both very good coaches, and I'm grateful to have learned from both over the years.”

GRAND HAVEN

Last year: Finished fifth in the O-K Red, behind Rockford, West Ottawa, Hudsonville and Grandville, but ahead of East Kentwood

Senior returners: Sage Horan, Sophie Kleyla, Alyssa Leppien, Dali Woodard

Quoting coach Doug Thorne on the seniors: “They contribute in so many ways. All four of them can do everything; they can swim all four competitive strokes. They help this team and are close with the other kids. The bulk of our team is freshmen and sophomores. They're talented, but those four girls have a lot of work to help me sculpt and mold them a bit. I'm excited about it.”

Key newcomers: Freshmen Alonna Clark, Kathryn Ackerman, Kaylee Ireland, Victoria Boyer

Thorne on the 2016 team: “It's kind of a catch 22. (We’re) very similar in that we're sitting in the same position that we were. Not many seniors graduated, but everybody (in the O-K Red) is still really strong. We inherited a lot of good incoming freshmen who are going to add to our front top end speed and also give depth more than ever before. We'll be a better team than before, and it's exciting.

“Unfortunately it will be tough to move up in the conference. But when it comes time for the state meet, Grand Haven is definitely going to have more people placing. Our relays are going to be stronger because of it.”

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