One of the frequent hashtags on Grain Valley Swim and Dive’s Twitter account is
The team is up and in the pool by 5:00am for practice before heading back home to prepare for a full day of virtual learning. If the old adage, “The early bird gets the worm”, holds true, Head Coach Kara Liddle is right to be confident of her team’s trajectory as they begin their 3rd season as a program.
The team has five divers and approximately 25 swimmers, with a number of returning students.
“There are four or five brand new ones—a few freshmen and some upper classman, which is always fun to see,” Liddle said.
At their December 1st practice, the team worked diligently on drills in preparation for their first meet later in the week. The team is focused on making the best use of their time, as sharing the pool with Blue Springs swimmers meant their practice time was up at 6:15am.
In a year where not much seems “normal”, the routine of daily practice, even at this early hour, is welcome. Once out of the pool, members grab their masks and their towels, and after final remarks from their coaches, head back home for school.
“I think that they are very adaptive. I don’t think they get enough credit for getting up as early as they do every day for practice. It’s not the norm. There’s no other team around here that has to get up every single morning as early as they do. I think that shows a lot about their character and their commitment. They really are just a great group of girls and they’re so much fun and they’re so supportive of each other. I just love that about them,” Liddle said.
Seniors Maddie Epple and Olivia White are excited to have the opportunity to compete during a senior year where much is uncertain.
Epple had some impressive wins last year, including a 2nd place finish in the 500 Free in Conference competition last year.
As far as goals for this season, Epple has her eyes on State.
“I’m shooting for State in the 500,” Epple said.
Both Epple and White said COVID-19 related shutdowns impacted their ability to practice, but both are excited to have the opportunity to return.
“The first couple of days of practice started off pretty rough, but I’m definitely glad to be back in the pool,” White said.
White’s preferred events are the 50 Free and 100 Free.
Junior diver Hayden Meyer returns after a successful sophomore season, where she placed 12th at State.
In a year of constant change, Meyer said the most challenging thing about balancing early morning practices and virtual learning is the urge for a nap before school begins.
“As a student, the most challenging thing is getting home and getting on those Google Meets. There’s something so compelling about an after-dive nap,” Meyer joked.
The team heads to its first meet Thursday, December 2nd at St. Joseph Central and a swim/dive meet next week in Raytown. As far as goals for the season, Liddle says the team is taking the season one week at a time.
“At this point, we are just hoping we stay safe and healthy. We’re four weeks into daily practices, and I just want them to be able to apply all the hard work that they have done. There are going to be meets that are canceled, there are going to be things that are different this year. But, as long as we can get some meets in and they can swim and dive and show off all the hard work that they have done, I’ll be happy,” Liddle said.