The Farmington Hills Mercy swim and dive team poses for a photo after winning the Division 1 state title Nov. 23 at Holland Aquatic Center. This is Mercy’s third straight title.

The Farmington Hills Mercy swim and dive team poses for a photo after winning the Division 1 state title Nov. 23 at Holland Aquatic Center. This is Mercy’s third straight title.

Photo by Bill Case


Mercy wins third straight D-1 swim and dive state title

By: Zachary Manning | Farmington Press | Published December 3, 2019

 Pictured from left, Drew Edson, Greta Gidley and Mike Venos pose for a photo after the Division 1 state finals at Holland Aquatic Center. Gidley won the 100-yard freestyle.

Pictured from left, Drew Edson, Greta Gidley and Mike Venos pose for a photo after the Division 1 state finals at Holland Aquatic Center. Gidley won the 100-yard freestyle.

Photo by Bill Case

FARMINGTON HILLS — Though there were 37 teams at the Division 1 swim and dive state finals Nov. 22-23 at Holland Aquatic Center, it was really a two-team race.

Farmington Hills Mercy and Ann Arbor Pioneer were the only two teams to top the 200-point mark, with the third-place team sitting 100 points behind.

Pioneer and Mercy were neck and neck throughout the meet, which led to every race having significance.

In the last event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, Pioneer touched out in first, while Mercy finished in third. Having a lead going into the event, that was enough for the Marlins to secure the state title.

Mercy finished with 298 total points, while Pioneer ended the meet with 297.5.

“It was absolutely electric,” Mercy coach Mike Venos said of the atmosphere. “The stands were loud, the deck kids were cheering. From the first whistle to start the first relay to the end, it wasn’t anything like I had seen before.”

It should come as no surprise to see Mercy finding success at the state level, as the Marlins have routinely found themselves among the top teams over the years.

The program won five consecutive state titles from 2007-2011 and has finished as a state champion or runner-up in 12 of the last 13 seasons. The Marlins finished third in 2015.

This year’s championship marks the third consecutive D-1 state title for the program. The consistency of the program is not lost on Venos.

“We are talking history with these girls all the time,” Venos said. “Of the community that they belong, the girls that have swam and dove before them, and the responsibility they have to just give it all and leave it all in the pool. I think tradition plays a huge part in the success of these girls when they walk in the door.”

Depth played a large factor in the Marlins’ 2017 and 2018 state title runs, as they didn’t win a single event in either year but were able to finish high enough in multiple events to accumulate points.

That depth would again be a factor for this year’s squad. However, the Marlins did have an individual state champion.

Greta Gidley took the top spot in the 100 freestyle, with a time of 50.53 seconds. The junior touched out ahead of Pioneer’s Lucy Mehraban, which played a role in helping the Marlins edge out Pioneer.

“That was huge. It really was. It was nice to see her hard work pay off,” Venos said of Gidley. “We had kind of lost a couple of close races in the butterfly, and I think Greta’s win was a huge, huge boost for the rest of the team.”