The Calvin men's and women's swimming and diving teams completed an historic afternoon Saturday, hosting their first-ever dual meets inside the Venema Aquatic Center. Fittingly, the first competition was held against rival Hope with the Calvin women defeating the Hope women's team 179-127 while the Calvin men were defeated by the Hope men's team 171-95.
A standing room only crowd of more than 500 spectators were treated a thrilling dual meet which began with opening remarks from Calvin president Dr.
Gaylen Byker and the lead donor for the facility - Thelma Venema.
The women's dual meet featured a pair of nationally-ranked teams as Hope entered the meet ranked eighth in the most recent Division III Collegeswimming.com Top 25 poll while the Calvin women came in ranked 25th.
Calvin took the early momentum by winning the 200 medley relay with an NCAA III conditional cut qualifying time of 1:49.11. The relay consisted of sophomore Monica Bressler (Sandusky, OH), junior Emily Roberts (Dekalb, IL), senior Julie Wolfe (Westerville, OH) and senior Cara VanWoerkom (Calvin Christian HS).
Sarah Sohn of Hope then won the 1,000 freestyle in a tie of 10:40.39 but the Knights were able to go 2-3-4 in the event with senior Laura Price (Warren, PA) taking second (10:42.12), junior Libby Veldkamp (Calvin Christian HS) taking third (11:02.46) and freshman Bridget Scott (Oakville, ON) placing fourth (11:07.83).
The strong finish by the Knights helped set the tone according to head coach Dan Gelderloos. "Our distance freestylers had a great performance but they did so by working together," said Gelderloos. "That teamwork was wonderful to see and it helped keep the momentum in our corner."
The Knights then proceeded to record four NCAA III conditional qualifying cut times along with a pair of school records as the meet continued led by senior Erica Deur (Holland Christian HS) who reset her own school records on the one and three meter diving boards. On the one-meter board, Deur broke her previous school record of 286.50 for six dives with a first place score of 301.55 points. On the three-meter board, Deur reset her previous school record of 290.20 with a first place performance of 299.10. Deur led a 1-2-3-4 Calvin finish on both diving boards. On the three-meter board, junior Casey Herman (Libertyville, IL) was second (218.05), senior Jeeena Velzen (Unity Christian
HS) third (210.50) and sophomore Camren brummel (Unity Christian HS) fourth (209.65). In the one-meter competition, Hereman was second (246.90), Velzen third (214.55) and Brummel fourth (210.65).
"We put in a couple of new dives today for our divers and I wasn't sure how they would pan out," said Calvin diving coach Aaron Paskvan. "Our divers did a great job of executing and exceeding my expectations. We're ahead of schedule right now and that's great to see."
Other highlights for the Calvin women included Roberts and junior Maggie Vail (Portage Northern HS) finishing one-two in the 100 breaststroke with Roberts clocking in with an NCAA III conditional qualifying time of 1:05.06 and Vail recording a conditional qualifying time of 1:06.36.
VanWoerkom also had a huge day, winning the 50 freestyle with a conditional qualifying time of 24.34 in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle with an NCAA III conditional qualifying cut time of 52.97. In addition, Vail won the 200 breaststroke with an NCAA III conditional qualifying cut time of 2:24.79 and won the 200 IM with a time of 2:13.57.
Other individual winners for the Calvin women included Price in the 200 freestyle (1:56.16) and 500 freestyle (5:14.73) and Wolfe in the 100 butterfly (1:00.52).
In the men's competition, senior Keith Conrad (Wheaton, IL) and freshman Ross Battoclette (Cincinnati, OH) had strong days with Conrad taking second in the 200 butterfly (2:05.76) and third in the 1,000 freestyle (10:18.10) and 500 freestyle (5:02.06) while Battoclette was second in the 100 freestyle (49.42) and 500 freestyle (5:00.76) and third in the 200 freestyle (1:47.24).
Senior Dennis Steenbergen (Aylmer, ON) was a winner on both the one-meter
(231.55) and three-meter diving boards (205.85).
Other notables for the Calvin men included junior Jon Herrema (Grand Rapids Christian HS) placing second in the 100 butterfly (56.10) and senior Matt Bolles (West Ottawa HS) taking second in the 200 breaststroke (2:28.54) and 200 IM (2:10.18).
“I think we need to thank Hope for making this meet so competitive,” said Gelderloos. “I think both teams were able to swim fast and really enjoyed this meet. It was also great to see this place full. There was great energy in this building. It will definitely go down as one of the best days in Calvin swimming and diving history.”
Both Calvin teams return to action next Saturday when they travel to Alma for 1:00 p.m. MIAA dual meets.