Losing is never fun, but it can certainly be educational.
At least, that was the hope of Grand Haven swim coach Doug Thorne after his Buccaneers swam against No. 5-ranked West Ottawa on Thursday, a meet the visiting Panthers won 173-132.
West Ottawa features one of the top swimmers in the nation in junior Tabahn Afrik. The teen was one of 60 top athletes to attend the national U.S. Swimming camp late last year.
“We knew going in West Ottawa was one of the better teams in the state, not just in our conference and on our schedule,” Thorne said. “And when you get to that level, everyone knows who you (Afrik) are. He’s one of the best swimmers ever to jump in a pool in the state of Michigan. He’s very smooth, his technique is very sound. He’s fun to watch.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see him swimming in the Olympic trials in two years, and he’s only a junior.”
While Afrik and the Panthers dominated much of the meet, Grand Haven did turn in some strong performances, especially considering Thorne used the meet to try swimmers out in different events.
Josh Tooker put a smile on his coach’s face. He won the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 1 minute, 5.63 seconds, and was third behind a pair of Panthers in the 200 freestyle in 1:56.65.
“Josh is reaping the benefits of wanting to make his senior year really special,” Thorne said. “He’s worked really hard, and now he’s blossoming.”
Read more of this story in today's print edition or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.