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September 6, 2012

Grosse Pointe South swim hopes to have best season in program history

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Grosse Pointe South’s Ellen Neveux swims the 100 breaststroke in a recent meet against Novi. Neveux is one of seven seniors on the Blue Devils’ squad.

Last season was another good one for Grosse Pointe South’s girls swim team.

The Blue Devils finished the season with an overall record of 13-1, won their 11th consecutive division championship (Macomb Area Conference Red Division), and finished in fourth place in the Division 2 state finals.

As impressive as those accomplishments are, South coach Eric Gunderson believes the best may be yet to come. He has set a goal for his team to finish within the top two at this year’s state finals, and if it is accomplished, it will be a program-best.

Gunderson, in his fourth year at the helm, believes he has ample reasons to think big.

“We’ve got a very deep and talented team,” he said. “We’re looking for this to be the best season in the team’s history. The reality is, right now, it’s hard to say what everything is going to look like come state meet time. You can’t predict what everybody else is going to do. All we can do is our best, and we have aspirations that if we do our best, we should be able to do something really spectacular.”

Given the talent assembled on his roster, it may be hard for Gunderson to have anything but lofty ambitions. South had four swimmers who placed in the top 16 at last year’s state meet, and all of them are back in the water for the Blue Devils this season.

Catherine DeLoof was the individual state champion in the 100-yard freestyle, while Cassandra Morse, Anne Crowley and Gabrielle DeLoof also had strong showings.

Aubryn Samaroo, Ellen Neveux, Scarlet Cockell and Becky Weiland represent the four senior captains, and Gunderson would like to see them finish their career at South on a high note. He believes that his seniors have an opportunity to have a profound impact on South’s program.

“They’re really great with the underclassmen,” Gunderson said. “In a sport like this, where you’ve got freshmen through seniors all on one team, it’s really nice to have upperclassmen who are looking out for the underclassmen. I really appreciate having such a good class of seniors because they set the example for what the rest of the team is going to follow. That not only has a positive effect on the immediate season, but it also sort of has (an) effect that carries on past that year into the next group of leaders.

“They’re great students and good role models. I’m fortunate to have that group.”

After finishing just one point behind third-place Birmingham Groves at the state meet last season, Gunderson is able to show his swimmers first-hand the importance of battling hard in every event.

“I’ve been able to hit the point home that every finish really does count,” Gunderson said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can to touch-out the opponents and sneak out as many points as we can, because it really can come down to being a close meet this year.”

Of the 52 swimmers and divers on South’s roster, only seven are seniors, and Gunderson is seeing some talented young swimmers who could help to shape the future of the program.

“We got a young team with a lot of talented girls who work hard,” he said. “If everybody continues to work hard, improve and finish the season better than where they were the previous year, we’re going to continue to be successful. We’re pretty excited. I don’t think we’re ruling out the possibility of a state championship this year or in the next couple.”

The Blue Devils are next scheduled to be in action at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at the West Bloomfield Invitational (West Bloomfield High School). South is next scheduled to be at home at noon Sept. 15 against St. Ignatius (Chicago).

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.