by Alyssa Potyraj
Thursday, October 19 is senior night for the Grandville girls swim team. This will be the seniors’ last meet in their home pool- the pool they have been competing in since they were young.
The seniors will be recognized for their years of hard work and dedication before the meet starts.
Senior Julia Veenkamp said she started swimming when she was just 6 years old because her dad offered her 5 dollars to join the swim team. 11 years later, and now a senior in high school, she is still swimming.
One of Julia’s favorite swim memories was during her junior year at the OK Red conference meet. On the second day at conference finals, the coach (Matt) came up to her before the big 500 race of 20 laps. He told her she needed to race the two girls next to her, both rivals from Hudsonville. During the first 18 laps Julia fought through the pain to stay neck and neck with the two girls, but during the last two laps she overcame the pain and remembered what Matt told her about racing. She used the knowledge she learned through her many years of swimming to pass both girls and beat them to the wall. Julia was overcome with joy when she looked up at the scoreboard to see that she not only beat one of her rivals, but she beat both of them.
Although swim is physically and mentally draining, the happy moments and achievements make it all worth it.
Julia said she enjoys the thrill of racing, but she also enjoys the bonds made with the team and all of the funny memories she has made over the years. She remembers one time that coach Matt dressed up in a children’s Thomas the Train Halloween costume. In response, senior Rachel Otte made a mask of the coaches face and wore it to practice in hopes of scaring the coach during the week of Halloween.
Coach Matt has been the five seniors’ swim coach since they were in 7th grade. He has seen them grow not only as swimmers, but also into mature young ladies.
Coach Matt highlighted the seniors’ leadership
“I remember talking to this class at the start of the year and saying ‘this 2017 season can go two routes with your leadership. It can be a great season or it can be one of the best seasons to date for the Grandville swim and dive team,'” Coach Matt said. “They owned this statement and are making not only me, but the entire community proud.”
The seniors led the team with ease by getting everyone ready for meets, pumping them up, and showing the underclassmen the ropes of high school swim. They know when to lighten the mood and have fun, but they also know when it is time to be serious, put their best effort forward, and ulitimatly lead by example.
Junior Carolyn Peterson said “I will miss having the girls around who I grew up with. We have been together for so long; we are more like a family, and I will miss that.”
The senior class of 2018 will be missed. Come out and support them Thursday, October 19, at 6 p.m. at their last home meet!