Blue Devils boys swim team building up to success

By: Jon Malavolti | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 18, 2011

 Grosse Pointe South’s Ryan Graham swims during a recent practice. The Blue Devils, despite having a smaller team than usual this season, still have big goals.

Grosse Pointe South’s Ryan Graham swims during a recent practice. The Blue Devils, despite having a smaller team than usual this season, still have big goals.

Photo by David Schreiber

It’s just about “go time” for the Blue Devils.

As Grosse Pointe South’s boys swimming and diving team nears the midpoint of its season, it is going into high gear.

“We’re going into the peak of our training,” South coach Eric Gunderson said. “As we get toward early and mid-February, we should see some faster times. I’m looking forward to the end of the season.

“It’s still a ways away, but it comes up pretty quick.”

Gunderson said the season has been going “pretty well” so far for the team, which has been presented with a challenge the program rarely faces — low numbers. The coach said he’s got about 25 athletes this year.

“It’s a smaller team than we’ve had in the past,” he said. “It’s a nice close group of guys. They train really hard. We’re swimming pretty well for where we are at this point in the season.”

The team has embraced the smaller roster, which in turn gives more swimmers a chance to compete more often. Gunderson said he’s got swimmers racing in back-to-back events more now than in the past, calling it an “interesting” situation when it comes to dual meets.

“It’s been fun,” the coach said. “There’s been no lack of opportunity for people to score points; everybody’s coming together. It’s a tight-knit team.”

The increased chemistry and roles have certainly paid off so far, as the Blue Devils are on target to win another MAC Red Division championship and enjoy some more success at the state level.

South was 2-0 in the division in dual meets at press time. Last year, the squad built off its regular-season success and ended up as state runners-up in Division 2, along with some new school records to their name.

That strong finish gave South an extra confidence boost to start out this season.

“I certainly think the excitement of what we did last year carried over to the guys this year,” Gunderson said. “The belief factor is elevated as far as what we can do at state meet — the time drops we had at that point — and it contributes to the experience of the guys retuning from that state team. It makes it easier this time around. Having experience behind them is a big plus.”

But after graduating “a lot of guys,” the coach is keeping this year’s goals in perspective.

“We’re still shooting to have some strong relays, looking to improve on individual spots, qualify some new guys and just have fun doing what we can do,” Gunderson said.

“We can’t control what other teams look like, just try and have the best swims we can. Hopefully, we can get as high as possible (at states), certainly in the top 10.”

Captains Craig Campbell, Cam Johnson, Roby Boggs and Ryan Graham lead the team, which Gunderson said as a whole was a “strong group of guys.”

“We’ve got some seniors who are very fast,” the coach said. “Our captains are very strong. They’ve got the experience behind them, been to a few state meets and have had some success. They’re going to lead our state meet group and team in general.”

As for goals for the remainder of the season, Gunderson said he’d like to see some new records and relay teams make All-State.

“We’re still only about halfway through the season — there’s a long way to go,” the coach said.

But just like the Blue Devils, it’s coming up fast.