At least, that’s how the Spring Lake swimming and dive team sees it. The Lakers took on the O-K Greater Grand Rapids Swim Conference on Friday and Saturday at Jenison High School, taking third overall.
With the season’s grand finale looming in the Division 3 state championships, the Lakers just couldn’t wait to show the world what they were capable of. En route to their bronze-medal finish, they toppled five school records and claimed two event titles.
“Across the board, everybody swam great,” Spring Lake head coach Rob Peel said. “To get beat by East Grand Rapids and a team that is as big as Forest Hills, the boys feel really good about that.”
The 200-yard medley relay kicked things off in a big way. The team of Joey Wachter, Will Brown, Kevin Losee and Cam Peel splashed their way to a silver medal in the first event of the day, clocking in at a school-record setting pace of 1 minute, 37.41 seconds.
Wachter’s day only improved from there. Second place was as low as he finished in any event.
On his first return trip to the pool in the 200 freestyle, the freshmen phenom carried the top-seed out of prelims. Swimming in the center lane, Wachter fell one place to grab another silver medal in 1:45.37.
From there, it was all gold everything. His second individual event, the 100 backstroke, went off without a hitch. Wachter threw down a 52.85, lowering his own Spring Lake record for the third time this season.
The young wonder capped off his day with a little help from his friends. Wachter, Peel, Charlie Slajus and Kevin Losee teamed up to take the top-spot in the 400 freestyle relay, earning them the Butch Briggs Memorial award. Their time of 3:12.72 was good for a school record, as well.
“It was cool, a fun experience,” Wachter said. “I’ve never competed at a high school championship before.”
The record, Wachter says, “took some hard work, but was well worth the toil in the end.
“Lots of coaches pushing me really hard, practicing twice a day, five days a week. I’ve been trying to get that (backstroke record) all year, the last couple meets I’ve been getting it pretty consistently. It’s pretty fun to keep breaking my own record. I didn’t think I would go as fast as I did to be honest. There was a lot of good competition.”
Aside from Wachter, a myriad of Lakers posted phenomenal swims.
“There wasn’t anybody that was disappointed,” coach Peel said. “Guys like Sam Sella and Sam Wolters had huge time drops. It felt great to see the guys go best times.”
Losee took home runner-up in the 200 individual medley, also claiming a school record in 1:59.12. Following just behind was Drew Fogel, claiming fifth place with a time of 2:02.36.
Peel assumed his position of top sprinter, finishing second in both the 50 and 100 freestyle. His 21.47 in the 50 was good enough to lower his own school record. Just behind Peel in the “A” final were teammates Charlie Slajus, who took fourth in the splash-and-dash in 22.52, and Eric Schock, taking fifth in 22.85, qualifying him for the state meet.
Slajus returned to take fourth in the 100 freestyle, later.
Noah Locascio led the Laker divers by claiming All-American honors with his score of 394.10. He took fifth overall in the 1-meter competition. Gavin DeVries finished eighth with 327.10 points, just ahead of Casey King taking ninth with 319.15.
All three divers, along with Johnny Meulenbelt, qualified to represent Spring Lake at the regional diving championships Thursday at East Grand Rapids High School. The top 12 finishers at the regional earn the right to dive at the state championship meet.
Losee took the league to flight school in the 100 butterfly, claiming third place in 52.36. Beside him was his co-pilot, Fogel, who took seventh in 54.92.
Will Brown rounded out the Laker’s top-eight finishes turning in a 1:03.62 100 breaststroke, nabbing a fifth place finish.
By final tally, Spring Lake finished with 346.5 total points, behind second-place East Grand Rapids with 386 and conference champion Forest Hills. Trailing the Lakers in fourth was host Jenison, with Grand Rapids Christian finishing in fifth, Grand Rapids Catholic Central in sixth and Northview rounding out the conference in last place.
After the scores were all said and done, four Lakers were selected for the All-Conference team. Charlie Slajus, Kevin Losee, Joey Wachter and Cam Peel all were given first-team honors.
With the conference meet out of the way, the Lakers who qualified for the state meet will begin the resting process and prepare to leave it all in the pool at the Holland Aquatic Center on March 10 and 11.
“I would be trilled if we could get into the top six overall, but look how close we were to EGR, so who knows. Being in the hunt is the fun part. I’m really excited, especially for our core group of kids who haven’t rested yet.”
However they finish, based on their performance against the best of the west, Michigan’s east side had better look out. The Lakers are coming.
GH swim takes on O-K Red
The O-K Red Conference championship meet took place at East Kentwood over the weekend with the Buccaneer swimming and dive teams taking one last stab at extending their seasons. Grand Haven took fifth of six teams, finishing with 269.5 points, ahead of East Kenwood with 201.
West Ottawa took home the O-K Red title, finishing with 469.5 points.
The 200 medley relay team of Carter Brown, Sam Hankinson, Grant Ruster and Jordan DeVries kicked off the meet with a fourth place finish, clocking in at 1:39.70.
Ruster captured two more top-eight finishes individually. First, in the 200 I.M. taking fourth in a time of 1:59.12. Next, he claimed fifth place in the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.79. He finished off his meet with the anchor leg of Grand Haven’s fifth place 400 freestyle relay, along with Eli Vandenbrand, Matt Fahey and DeVries.
Ruster wasn’t the only Buc to crack the “A” final. DeVries took fourth in the 50 freestyle in 22.30, and snagged a tie for fifth in the 100 freestyle, in a duplicated time of 48.98.
Fahey took on the 500 freestyle, dropping a nice chunk of time to grab fifth in 4:53.04.
The team of Vandenbrand, Jackson Hamm, Seth Roffey and Fahey clocked in at 1:32.88 in the 200 freestyle relay, good for fifth overall.
Brown reprised his backstroker role from the medley relay to take fourth in the 100 backstroke, turning in a time of 56.02.
Hankinson returned to port to drop off an eighth place finish in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:03.57.
The qualified Bucs will take on the Division 1 state meet at Oakland University on March 10 and 11.