Olympic swimming phenom Michael Phelps stated, “If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren’t willing to do.”
Not many high school students are willing to wake up before dawn to practice for several hours daily, but for the Grain Valley High School Boys Swim and Dive team, early mornings are just the price to be paid to reach the goals they have as a team.
Head Coach Kara Liddle said this year’s team surprised her with the improvement she’s seen compared to last year. The program is entering its third year with nine swimmers and three divers, and Liddle is pleased with their progress.
“It’s been really cool to see from year one to year three just how much they have improved,” Liddle said.
While the early end to the 2019-20 school year did not impact the swim and dive program, shutdowns did delay the ability for swimmers to practice. Local club team programs and pool access were delayed due to COVID-19 related shutdowns. Liddle said the team was excited to finally have the chance to get back in the pool and have a sense of normalcy.
“Getting up at 4:30am is hard, but they're here every day excited to get in the pool and get back to normal,” Liddle said.
While practice has resumed, the season ahead is still in flux.
“It changes every day, which is kind of hard. We don’t know what our schedule is going to end up looking like. Luckily, I think we’re small enough that we should be able to do most of our dual meets because of size restrictions. I don’t think we’ll be able to have any of the larger invitationals this year, but. we’re just plugging along regardless,” Liddle said.
One of Liddle’s goals is to help provide the student athletes a bit of respite from the uncertainties faced outside the pool.
“I want to be consistent for them. I have the same expectations for them as in past years, but we are also focused on taking care of themselves and each other. This is their place to enjoy a bit of normalcy.”
“High school swimming is different in that there is more team camaraderie, compared to club swimming environments. In club teams, you’re a team but the focus is on improving yourself and your own times. Here, they’re working for each other.”
The team has their eyes set on State this year, with a goal of making a state time in relays.
“They got really close last year to making a State time in relays last year, and they are bound and determined that they are going to get there this year.”
Senior Jordon Jarman returns this fall after a successful season last year. Jarman said his team is excited to get back to work and have their eyes set on a State qualifying time.
“It’s going great so far. We’re getting up early, getting the job done. We have a goal to get that State time, and we are working hard to get it done,” Jarman said.
The start of the 2020-21 school year certainly been different, but Jarman said he and his teammates are taking it in stride.
“It’s been real strange getting back after having to take several months off, but all this hard work is going to pay off.”
Jarman is quick to point out that a bit of help is needed from the adults in his life to keep him going.
“Thanks to my mom for helping me get up and get to practice. Coach gets mad when I’m not here on time,” Jarman quipped, “but thanks to them both for keeping me motivated.”