By: Chase Gardiner/GCU Staff
While the 2017-18 season is officially over for the Grand Canyon University Club Swimming team, the Lopes show no signs of slowing down. Instead, they plan on growing their team even more through the incorporation of some new faces.
Following their most successful season yet, the Lopes are thrilled to welcome their latest class of over 15 recruits to the family for 2018-19. The addition of new talent has always been a focus for Lopes’ Head Coach Jeremy Phung, who knows just how important this growth is for the future of the program. “When I first talked to all the club directors, they really wanted to see numbers, and that this program was something that they could see potential in,” explained Phung. “When they see that and the progress we’ve made, it allows us more opportunity through more facilities, or going to nationals, and so on.”
Of course, the GCU Club Swimming program isn’t the only benefactor on this two-way street. Many of the incoming recruits also have plenty of reasons to be excited for the opportunity to compete as a Lope. For example, incoming freshman Emily Brooks, a local recruit from Red Mountain High School who will be attending GCU as a nursing major, is looking forward to how the club team can improve her college experience.
“I am very excited to be competing on another level, other than just high school,” explained Brooks. “Although it isn’t NCAA, it is exciting that they get many of the same opportunities, and there will still be a high level of competition to go up against. It will also help me get more involved with the school, which I’m really looking forward to.”
In the same way, incoming freshman Frank Zanin, a biology major with an emphasis in pre-med, was drawn to the club team’s proven level of competition and unique experiences.
“I wasn’t able to compete in the NCAA, but I didn’t want to go to a small school, so this was a perfect compromise of getting that college competition, while still going to a big university,” said Zanin. “The only way to push yourself and get better is to compete against people that are better than you. While it would be hard to put in the time and work if there wasn’t competition, club swimming’s competition makes all the hard work worth it.”
Meanwhile, fellow freshman Jake Ogden, who will also be studying biology with an emphasis in pre-med, talked about how much club sports meant to his future.
“Club swimming is actually a big reason that I joined this school,” he explained. “I wanted to continue competing, and Arizona State University didn’t have a swimming team, so this was one of the best options for me.”
However, incoming freshmen aren’t the only ones finding reasons to join the club sports craze. Spencer Shiraishi, a junior transfer student studying business management, will also join the Lopes for the first time next season. When explaining why he was excited to join club swimming, his response was simple. “I like being a part of a team,” said Shiraishi. “I like the sport, but I really like the people, and this gives me an opportunity to be a part of the team.”
After hearing his new recruits list the multitude of reasons why they wanted to be a part of club swimming, Phung couldn’t help but be happy with how much the program has grown since its inception.
“When I first started the program, it was my sophomore year, and I didn’t know how to project the team,” said Phung. “Did we want to be super competitive, or just be a club for leisure? Or was there a way to merge both? As you can tell from everyone’s answers, we’ve found a way to build a team that is competitive, while still offering an opportunity to enjoy a sport they love with other people. I think that’s the vision that we had in mind when we first built the program, and to hear other people say that and want to be a part of that is great.”
Interested in joining the club swimming team? Contact the coach to learn more!