By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
In their first meet following a long winter break, the GCU Club Swimming team opened up the New Year with a solid third-place finish at the Matt and Annie Grevers Sweetheart Invite February 17. The Lopes finished strong amongst some tough competition, overcoming both Olympic level competition and the rust of a two month hiatus.
“Winter break is always tough to come back from,” explained Lopes’ Head Coach Jeremy Phung. “With all the eating and relaxing, jumping back into things right away is pretty difficult.”
For this reason, the Lopes decided to opt out of any earlier spring meets, instead focusing their training on preparation for their February competition.
“When we joined up again in January, we all realized we slacked a little bit, but as we got back into our regular schedule, we got back into our groove,” explained Lopes’ freshman swimmer Matthew Becktold. “With that said, coming into the meet, we had all set realistic goals and times, and I was pleased to see us all succeed in accomplishing those goals.”
While long gaps in competition are usually a notorious pitfall for athletes, the Lopes combined increased training with high levels of team morale in order to keep their successful season rolling.
“The morale of the team was the most important aspect of this win,” said Phung. “We knew going into this meet that we weren’t going to hit our best times, but even knowing this, it was still nice to see the team’s morale really upbeat, and everybody cheering each other on.”
This form of camaraderie has proven to be a key strength for the Lopes this season as swimmers continue to push one another despite the circumstances. In fact, Becktold and sophomore Nathaniel Lee were perfect examples of this strength over the weekend.
“They always do well in everything that they swim,” said Phung. “I think what was really great for them, though, was that they swam next to each other in two events, and really pushed each other to perform better in those events.”
While swimming with fellow teammates was surely comforting, Lee eventually found himself facing a formidable opponent on his own. While swimming the 50 Free event, Lee shared the pool with four-time Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers, who swam for the Arizona Masters Swim Club. Luckily for Lee, the GCU Club Swimming program is no stranger to this level of competition as Olympians have become a common site for the team’s athletes. With a lap time of 25.23, Lee finished first in his age group, and fifth overall, with Grevers also snagging a first-place finish in his age group.
After putting together a strong performance out of the break, the GCU Club Swimming team hopes to ride the momentum into another first-place finish in their upcoming CISCA Invitational Swim Meet at UCLA this Saturday, March 3.
Interested in joining the club swimming team? Contact the coach to learn more!