By Rick Palsgrove
Did you know the Groveport Madison High School swim team has been around for several years and has even produced state champions in the past?
There are 10 swimmers this year’s team – four boys and six girls – and they are coached by Rachel Owens and Ilana Webber. Webber has been a coach since the team started in 2016.
The team competes in the Ohio Capital Conference Buckeye Division.
“Because we are a small team compared to our competitors, we don’t win very many meets, but overall our swimmers are setting personal records at each meet,” said Owens. “We have a great group of kids who work really hard and support each other in both practices and meets.”
The team partners with the Groveport Recreation Center for the use of its indoor pool.
“We have had an amazing partnership with the Groveport Rec Center,” said Owens. “We practice there for two hours after school Monday-Friday. We hosted Grove City for a home meet at the rec center in December and we most recently hosted Canal Winchester, Hamilton Township, and Liberty Union for our Senior Night meet on Jan. 19. This year, we had 11 regular season meets all over Central Ohio, including the A.J. Glover Invitational at Kenyon College and the Athens Invitational at Ohio University. Our varsity athletes swam in OCC’s on Jan. 28 at Kenyon College and OHSAA Sectionals on Feb. 10.”
Owens said two of the team’s top swimmers are freshmen Taze Owens and Collin Hart.
“They have brought a new level of competition that the team hasn’t seen in several years,” said Owens. “Taze specializes in the sprint freestyle and breaststroke events and Collin specializes in the fly and backstroke events. Taze and Collin both swim on a club team and swim for the Groveport Fighting Fish in the summer. They make great training partners and are leaders on the team, as they show up and work hard in practice every single day, even putting in extra practices with their club team on the weekends.”
Owens said the officially sanctioned swim team started in 2016, but Cruiser swimmers have competed for several years before that.
“I represented Groveport Madison as the only swimmer in the late 1990s while I swam with my club team,” said Owens. “A few years later, state champion sisters Jenny and Heather Bradford represented Groveport. Jenny and Heather Bradford both competed for Groveport Madison in the early 2000s. Jenny won the state championship in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle and Heather won the state championship in the 100 butterfly. Both girls went on to swim at the University of Kentucky.”
Owens said the future of the Cruiser swim team is bright.
“We have a young program consisting of mostly freshmen and sophomores,” said Owens. “The partnership with the city of Groveport and the Groveport Recreation Center has been an incredible support to our program. We are looking to continue to build our program, hoping to add another 10 swimmers next year. Swimming is a great sport to stay in shape during the off-season of other sports, like football, cross-country, and track. We are hoping to encourage multi-sport athletes to join the swim team next year.”
Owens said swimming is not only great exercise, but also an important life skill.
“We do not have any requirements to join the high school swim team,” said Owens. “We will teach anyone who wants to learn. Swimming is for all ability levels. It is a great sport that teaches self-motivation and personal goal-setting. While we are a team, each swimmer is competing against themselves to achieve personal best times.”
For information on the Groveport Madison Cruiser swim team, visit gocruisers.org.
Cruisers at OCC swim meet results
The Cruisers competed at the Ohio Capital Conference swim meet on Jan. 28 at Kenyon College. Here are the Cruisers’ results, according to Groveport Madison Schools: Girls Medley Relay with Savanah Gacnik, Violeta Monjaras, Kei Kei Reed, and Alexa Rosales placed 6th; Girls Freestyle Relay with Violeta Monjaras, Arame Yade, Kei Kei Reed, and Savanah Gacnik took 5th place; Boys Medley and Freestyle relays, which included Assane Ba, Beckham Fulkerson, Collin Hart, and Taze Owens placed 5th in both events; Assane Ba improved in the 50 free by nearly 6 seconds and took 11th place in the 100 breast with a nearly half second time drop;. Beckham Fulkerson dropped 3.35 seconds in the 100 free and got 8th place in the 100 back with a 3.75 second time drop; Savanah Gacnik dropped a tenth of a second in the 50 free, finishing 15th and one second in the 100 back, finishing 14th; Collin Hart got third in the 200 IM and had an impressive 7.72 second time drop, he also dropped two seconds in the 100 fly and finished 5th. Hart was the Cruisers high point scorer, with 22 points; Violeta Monjaras took 11th place in the 50 free and 7th place in the 100 breast, with a 2.5 second time improvement; Taze Owens got 5th place in the 50 free and improved his time by 0.8 seconds. His time was 24.19, which is an Ohio Swimming Junior Olympic qualifying time. He also finished 6th in the 100 free and dropped 2.5 seconds; Kei Kei Reed placed 14th in the 100 breast; Alexa Rosales dropped10.6 seconds in the 100 free and finished 16th, and dropped seven seconds in the 100 back and finished 15th; Arame Yade dropped over seven seconds in the 200 free and dropped three seconds in the 100 free.