Despite the challenges of training and competing during a pandemic, DeWitt put together an 11-0 season and a strong showing at states.
Senior divers Elise Snyder and Addison Beathard were determined to not waste their final opportunity to compete in high school. They practiced outside, with the rest of the DeWitt swim and dive team, during the first month of the season because its pool was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The pandemic changed and limited the usual ways of practicing, making any time they could find precious. Snyder and Beathard, the team’s co-captains, were integral in bringing the team together during the offseason and making sure everyone was ready for the season even when it was still up in the air, according to Coach Greg Brace.
“Our captains worked really hard to find ways to do things all summer,” said Brace. “They reached out to the new swimmers on the team. And we couldn't do the kinds of gatherings we used to do to welcome them to the team. And so, they reached out, they started looking at ‘Hey, okay, we can't all get together and roast marshmallows around a fire in someone's backyard, how about how about we do a bike ride? We can do that.’ And they organized things like that.”
Snyder said the team was motivated by the uncertainty surrounding the season. The team tried to make the most of its experience, despite the still-looming possibility of sports being shut down again due to the pandemic.
“I think we're all really thankful that we at least got a season,” said Snyder. “I mean, we were willing to do whatever it took to get through it and try to make the best of it. And I really just tried to keep my positive energy.”
Beathard and Snyder are both members of the Spartan Diving Club, which, during normal years, brings together some of the best coaches and divers in the state during the summer.
However, that changed last summer.
“We spend a lot of time together usually with club diving, which I really enjoy, I love Elise,” said Beathard. “I get to the outdoor drylands. It was in St. John's and it had a dry board and then a trampoline that we were able to be at and social distance. And I wasn't able to do any in water diving, but I did get to do that for a couple weeks.”
Brace said they did everything possible to prepare, but it was nothing compared to a normal off-season of full preparation. He was impressed with his team’s resiliency. The collective buy-in from the team was crucial to the overall success.
“It was definitely different than any other season we've ever had before,” said Beathard. “But every one of the athletes and the coaches and parents went above and beyond to give us a season and we all knew what was at stake, and so we were really careful.”
The team went 11-0 in the regular season, winning the CAAC Blue and the Greater Lansing Honor Roll meet, making it the area’s most successful girls’ swimming and diving program this year. At the Division 2 state championship meet in January, DeWitt placed 11th and won two individual events.
Co-captain Jordyn Shipps won the 200 IM and the 100 freestyle at the state championship meet. She is on the Lansing State Journal Dream Team and is a finalist for swimmer of the year for the Lansing State Journal.
Snyder placed fourth in the one-meter diving event at States and is also on the Dream Team and a finalist for diver of the year in the Greater Lansing area.
Co-captain Karlie Janik was also on the Dream Team with Shipps and Snyder, while Beathard was all-area honorable mention.
The seniors’ time at DeWitt is now finished, but they hope they have helped build a successful program for the foreseeable future.
“I'd say that, at least my graduating class, like, we have a ton of swimmers,” said Snyder. “And we had five divers this year, which was like the most ever, we were all seniors. I'd say there are some really talented people in our class that helped bring our success a lot. But at the same time, we've also had some incoming swimmers that have improved a lot. I think our program helps build athletes a lot and helps them to get better.”
Brace said the DeWitt’s continued success stems from the community’s commitment to athletic excellence in every sport.
“Well DeWitt as a whole, it's not just the swim team, but DeWitt as a whole, the community has an expectation of excellence and the students come in expecting to be part of a team that focuses on excellence, and that was in place before I got there,” said Brace.