One of the best things about a state swimming finals meet is you get two chances – kind of. The prelims on Friday can either set a team up for a big run the next day or drown any hopes they have for a top finish.
For the Skyline boys’ swimming and diving team, Friday’s prelims didn’t go exactly as planned. They didn’t drown but they also didn’t set themselves up for big things in the finals.
But the Eagles rebounded with a strong Saturday, splashing their way to fifth place in a very competitive Division 1 field at the Holland Community Aquatic Center. The defending-state champion Eagles landed with 138 points, just two points ahead of rival Pioneer.
It wasn’t a state title but it was a good day capping off a good year for Skyline swimming.
“I was really impressed at how our guys showed up on Saturday after having some disappointments on Friday,” said Skyline Coach Maureen Murrett. “They really came together and swam for their team.”
Skyline had several people stand out including Henry Schirmer, who defended his state championship in diving. The Skyline senior scored 514.55 points to land in the top spot. Pioneer sophomore Cole Tremewan was second with 428.45 points.
“For the second straight year, not only did Henry win, he did it with an exclamation point,” Murrett said. “He was so far ahead, he had won the competition even before his last dive.”
Schirmer said the state meet is always a great way to end the season.
“I am fortunate that this was my fourth time competing at states,” he said. “There is always so much excitement surrounding this meet – there are more than 30 teams on the pool deck and the stands are always packed. There are so many talented swimmers and divers. It is by far the best meet of the year.”
And the best meet brings out the best in the best swimmers and divers. And for the third consecutive year, Schirmer was clearly the best of the best.
“Personally, I had a great meet,” he said. “I had a solid list of dives and stayed consistent over the two days of competition, through prelims and finals.”
And when the scores were added up, like Murrett said, it wasn’t even close.
“It was an exciting moment and I am very proud of the performance I put forward,” he said. “My coaches were there for me all along the way this season – on the pool deck, on the boards, and in the weight room. I couldn’t have done it without their support.”
Schirmer also was proud of how his team finished.
“We were the defending champs but graduated some strong swimmers, so the fifth-place finish was a good result,” he said. “We hit a lot of personal bests and had solid podium finishes. It was a great end to the season.”
Schirmer says this year’s team was fun to be a part of and that atmosphere helped set the Eagles up for success.
“Looking back on this year what stands out for me was the level of team spirit,” he said. “No matter who was swimming, there was always someone cheering at the end of the lane. Every time I came out of the water I heard my teammates cheering. I think that helped bring us together as a team. We were there for each other the whole way.”
Keith Kozma was another Skyline senior who had a big day for the Eagles.
He made a ton of progress in the sprint freestyle and anchored both the 200 and 400 free relays and his 200 free had sub-50 100 splits in both prelims and finals. Kozma’s 200 and 400 free relay teams placed 14th and 8th respectively. In his individual events, he dropped time and moved up a few places in both individual events in the finals. He was 12th in the 200 free (1:43.49) and 10th in the 500 free (4:45.59).
Kozma was very pleased with how his team finished the year.
“This year we were given the opportunity to see the efforts of our hard work and to show Michigan how dedicated and competitive the Skyline swim program is,” he said. “Although our state team wasn’t as large as it was the year before, we had excellent energy and had many impressive swims.
“I feel proud to represent a team that is consistently competitive.”
Winning in swimming goes beyond the water and the stop watches. It creates an atmosphere that proves hard work is rewarded and creates an environment these young students can take with them for the rest of their lives.
“This year my teammates and I learned to be strategic in our plan of attack, humble when we win, good sports when we lose, patient for success, and grateful for the opportunity to achieve our goals,” Kozma said.