Grand Haven will take on the grueling, but familiar O-K Red, pitted against the best Division 1 competition the state has to offer.
Meanwhile, Spring Lake’s dominance of the Coastal Conference will finally come to an end — not due to increased competition, but a conference shake-up. The Lakers will be thrown into the fire of the Greater Grand Rapids Conference with the likes of swimming and diving powerhouses East Grand Rapids and Jenison.
With so much up in the air, it’s time to splash down. Let’s dive into this years’ swimming and diving outlook.
Last year: First in Coastal Conference, 13th at Division 3 State Championships
Key Returners: Seniors Gavin Devries, Eric Schock, Sam Walters, Charlie Slajus and Casey King. Juniors Drew Fogel and Will Brown. Sophomore Cam Peel.
Key newbies: Freshmen Joey Wachter and Kevin Losee.
The entire senior class will play key roles on this year’s team and are supported by a stellar crew of underclassmen. Peel and Fogel both return in possession of the pool and school records in the 200 I.M.
The freshmen, Wachter and Losee, bring crucial USA club swimming experience to their first year representing Spring Lake. They will be ready to race from the outset of the season. Wachter specializes in the backstroke and freestyle, while Kevin competes in a loaded individual medley.
Quoting first-year head coach Rob Peel:
“We only have 16 swimmers, but we’ve got kids excited to compete and improve and are ready for the challenge of racing against some of the best swimmers in the state, many that are in our conference. The kids’ enthusiasm for the upcoming season, the encouragement they are giving their teammates and working hard themselves is exciting to see. While we’re small in numbers, we’ve got some really high-quality kids that are fired up about competing.
“The new conference is exciting and will definitely be challenging, but that’s what it’s all about, pushing yourself. A few D2 schools are in the mix as well, so we are taking that into consideration. We are looking forward to competing and testing ourselves.”
Casey King (diver)
Noah Locascio (diver)
Gavin DeVries (diver)
Johnny Meulenbelt (diver)
Jadon Barnes – diver
Jaiden Lewis – diver
Last season: 6-4 dual meet, 3rd O-K Red, 20th Division 1 State Championships
Key returners: Senior Sam Hankinson. Juniors Grant Ruster, Jodan DeVries, Brigham Thornock, Matt Fahey, Seth Roffey and Reilly Wisniewski. Sophomores Ethan Ball, Jackson Hamm, Mark Wilgenburg, Eli Vandenbrand,Aiden Latchaw,Griffen Kelly,Chris Aksleberg and Caleb Reeves.
Ruster and DeVries both return to the pool having state championship meet experience. Ruster returns as conference champion in the 200 I.M and runner up in the 100 breaststroke and placed 10th in the 200 I.M. last year, while DeVries qualified for state in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle.
A loaded sophomore class will provide much-needed depth for the Bucs in what looks to be one of their biggest rosters ever.
Quoting head coach Doug Thorne:
“The Bucs coming into this year know that most people will see us as a rebuilding type year, with the majority of our points scored last year coming from a senior dominate group. This team may not equal the up-front point scores as last year, but has the potential to be one the deepest teams in recent history. With almost 50, guys the Bucs may be young but will be extremely competitive as the season progresses.
“West Ottawa, Rockford continue to be the front runners again this year in the O-K Red Conference. Hudsonville, and Grandville both return a lot of state caliber kids to their programs this year. The conference from top to bottom continues to be the elite swim Conference throughout the state.