GRAND LEDGE – Coming into the year, Ian Townsend expected his young Grand Ledge swimming team to improve as the season progressed.
The Comets ended up skyrocketing past the expectations set by their coach. And, after a slow start, Grand Ledge thrived toward the season’s end and finished in a three-way tie for fourth place in the CAAC Blue and sent four swimmers to the Division 1 state meet.
“They took off at the end of the year and did things I hadn’t planned on,” Townsend, the LSJ girls swimming coach of the year, said. “Some of the girls talked about breaking school records and getting to the state meet this year. We kind of laughed about that and said it was a goal for next season or two seasons from now.”
Freshman Abigail Ford, sophomore Emma Cornell, junior Katie Thomas and senior Taylor Kehren all proved their coach wrong by qualifying for the state meet with solid performances during the regular season. Thomas broke the school record by two seconds in the 200 freestyle during the sport’s final weekend.
“I thought this season would be where we laid the foundation for next year and get people in the position to take the next step,” he said. “We did that but went beyond.
“This team really got along.”
Townsend started seeing the transition after a dual meet against DeWitt. It was then he saw the Comets’ camaraderie strengthen and lead to success in the water.
“It (the meet) showed a little glimmer of the potential,” Townsend said. “We didn’t have a dominant team by any stretch of the imagination, but we had kids that enjoyed each other and had a blast.”
The foundation has been cemented for the immediate future for Grand Ledge. And Townsend believes his team can reach new heights sooner rather than later.
“In years past, they didn’t feel like they belonged when they went up against the St. Johns’ of the world,” he said. “We didn’t beat them, but we felt like we belonged.
“The sky is the limit. They never experienced success like this, and it’s something they want to experience again.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.