By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
In one of their best meets of the year, the Grand Canyon University Club Swimming team finished in third place at the 2019 CISCA Winter Invitational in San Diego, California. The Lopes also had a handful of swimmers qualify for the upcoming Collegiate Club Swim and Dive Nationals in late March in Columbus, Ohio.
According to both players and coaches, the weekend success seemed to hinge around one common theme.
“Hands down, our team energy was greatly improved this time around,” said Lopes Head Coach Jeremy Phung. “Towards the beginning of the year, it seemed like everyone was focused on themselves and their individual performances, but it was totally different this time around. Everyone was really focused on supporting and encouraging one another, and the whole trip seemed more focused on team success.”
GCU freshman swimmer Collin Guelich noted just how important this change was to the team’s overall success.
“We’ve grown much closer as the year has progressed, and that has translated into much greater team energy,” said Guelich. “When you see people screaming at you and cheering you on during an event, it’s a great confidence booster, and it pushes you to get your best time for the team.”
While this improvement was seen from within the team itself, there were plenty of tangible results to reinforce such growth. GCU’s stellar performance managed to garner a total of 36 national qualifying times, while also netting six new team records. With such a multitude of qualifying times rolling in, the Lopes were able to achieve one of the main goals set out for them in August.
“Towards the beginning of the year, one of my main goals was to find a way to take half of both the men’s and women’s teams to nationals when the time rolled around,” said Phung. “With the success of the UCSD CISCA Meet, we will be able to take 10 women and five men, which is exactly half of each team. This also means that we will have enough to compete in relay events, which is really exciting for us.”
For those 15 students planning on making the trip to Columbus late next month, preparation for nationals starts now.
“We are just trying to be aware of how we take care of our bodies over the next month,” said Guelich. “Whether it be through healthy eating, or limiting our chances of injury, we are all just trying to stay healthy and ready to compete.”
In addition to physical preparedness, sophomore swimmer Iliana Kaiser touched on the mental aspect as well.
“One of my main focuses for the next few weeks will be simply on getting all my school work done and out of the way, so that when nationals get here, I can focus solely on competition, rather than on grades,” explained Kaiser. “I’d be ecstatic if by doing so, I could make finals, but just seeing personal improvement would be great.”
All past and future success aside, the Lopes had one more achievement over the weekend, which seemed to trump all others. Upon arriving, coaches and athletes were blessed to witness their teammate Ally Lynch, as she was baptized in the Pacific Ocean off of a San Diego beach.
Interested in joining the club swimming team? Contact the coach to learn more!