Above: Seniors Kelly Sweitzer, Allegra Forman and Laurel Cullerton receive end-of-season recognition at Senior Night held at the ELHS Pool.
Throughout the 2016 season, the East Lansing High School girl’s Swim and Dive Team pushed themselves every day, academically and in the pool. This hard work paid off at the end of the girls’ season, where they placed fifth at their league meet, moving up two places from the previous year.
In late April 2017, the girls’ academic efforts were also rewarded, when the team was awarded first place in the state of Michigan for their high GPA. With an average GPA of 3.9, the girls beat out the closest competition by .04, taking the Division Two Academic Team All-State award.
Senior captain Kelley Sweitzer attributes the girls’ success to the overall attitude among team members. “We place an especially high emphasis on performance in general, including academic performance,” she says. “The sport of swimming really inspires a hardworking, competitive drive in you. That [also] carries over to the classroom.”
The team is also very close. The tight knit atmosphere allows the girls to rely on each other for support in the classroom and in the pool. Sweitzer continues: “On our team we’re very much a family, so if anyone’s struggling in school, they can feel free to ask any of the upperclassmen.”
Above: Members of the ELHS Girls Swim and Dive Team prepare for the league meet through a traditional team gathering at Olive Garden a few days before.
This sense of family is evident from the high GPA of the team - despite the large number of girls in the pool, their average grade point is still remarkably high. Head Coach Ronald Marsh believes that competing for this award helps the girls to concentrate and refine their swimming.
“Being a student athlete balances out their life,” Marsh says. “When we do that, morale gets better [on the team] and [the girls] work harder in the pool.”
Coach Marsh encourages his swimmers to maintain their grades, sharing the team’s high academic standard with each new freshman class. So far it’s been successful. In 2015, the girls were second in the state academically, and the 2014 they were first. At this point, Coach Marsh views this achievement as a legacy to be upheld.
Coach Marsh adds “Last year was the first time I’ve ever looked nationwide. We were eighteenth in the country. I can't wait to see where we’re at this year because I want to make [that high academic standard] more a part of our culture. I think that adds more. [It’s] a pride thing.”
Finally, Sweitzer gives any hopeful future student athletes advice on balancing the books and other activities: “I’d say the most important tip is to focus on your well-being and other things will follow,” she says.
The ELHS boys’ Swim and Dive Team also has an excellent academic record, ranking third in the 2017 season, and first in their 2016 season.