Grandview Heights Roundup: Swimmers forced to adapt to the times

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Adam Ellis is one of two seniors on the Grandview Heights boys swimming team. The Bobcats have nine boys on their roster, up from six last season.
Sophomore Jada Heren swam on the Bobcats girls team's 400-yard freestyle relay and 200 free relay in last season's Division II state meet.

The Grandview Heights boys and girls swimming and diving teams were ahead of their preseason expectations when things came to a sudden halt because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The school district shut down practices until Dec. 2, and competitions are not allowed to resume until Saturday, Dec. 19. 

Fourth-year coach Susan Ferguson said she and her athletes are looking forward to their first meet, which is scheduled for Jan. 4 against Northridge at Columbus Aquatics Center.

“We started Oct. 31, we had great practice attendance and we were ahead of where we normally would be,” Ferguson said. “Then we stopped, and it’s tough to stay in the shape you need to be in without being in the pool. We have great chemistry, and we’re working hard. We’re making do with everything.”

The girls team is loaded with talent, including junior Phoebe Ferguson, the coach’s daughter. Last season, she placed seventh in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 6.69 seconds) in the Division II state meet. As a freshman, she finished sixth (2:07.85) at state in the same event.

“This year has been so different because of COVID,” Phoebe Ferguson said. “When we weren’t practicing, I’d do some workouts on my own including some running because I like to run. I also worked on my core and my leg strength because that helps reduce the chance of injury.”

Two other swimmers return for the girls team after competing in relays at state. Junior Sam Schaefer and sophomore Jada Heren joined Phoebe Ferguson and 2020 graduate Annie Volker on the 400 freestyle relay (11th, 3:41.67) and 200 free relay (14th, 1:41.86).

“The girls have a lot of talent back and we expect them to have a good season,” coach Ferguson said. “They were looking good before things stopped.”

Coach Ferguson said freshman Zoe Nielsen may fill the relay spot left by Volker.

Junior Emma Rowland, sophomores Lucia Mastroianni and Greta Tew and freshmen Vivian Chute, Caroline Clifford and Megan Urig round out the swimming roster. Senior Kit Stephens and sophomore Julia Heren are divers. 

The boys team has nine swimmers — up from last season’s six — and no divers. The Bobcats are led by sophomore Blake Yates and junior Marco Brunette, who competed in the Boston-area last season.

“Blake Yates swam at district for us last year, and he grew a couple of inches and has really looked strong so far,” coach Ferguson said. “Marco swam club around Boston and is good in the 200 and 500 free but can swim all four strokes.”

The boys have two seniors in Ethan Deis and Adam Ellis, with junior Ben Sterneker, sophomores Dyllan Deafenbaugh and Meeka Reese and freshmen William Halberg and Devin Yeager rounding out the roster.

Last season at state, 2020 graduate Charlie Ferguson finished ninth in the 100 butterfly (52.25) after winning the district title and also qualified in the 100 breaststroke. 

Coach Ferguson said everything is being done to make sure the athletes have a chance for a season.

“We’ll have dual meets with no timers, no locker rooms and no fans. The events will be live streamed (on the web),” she said. “We’ll wear masks unless we’re in competition in the pool. 

“The big meets like the Ned Reeb (in December at Ohio State) and Northeast Classic (in January at Branin Natatorium in Canton) are already canceled. If things get bad, we might have virtual meets where each team competes at its own pool and you put the times together on a website. The teams wouldn’t have to swim simultaneously, but within the same day. We’ll have to see if that happens.”

Coach Ferguson also said the Bobcats’ meets would be limited to 48 competitors or 24 per team.

“Those (participant) numbers could be higher at bigger pools, but not for us,” she said. “As coaches, we have masks on, so we have a wireless mic that hooks to the speaker. That helps us project our voice.

“It’s such a wonderful team and a great group of kids. We want to do whatever we can to make sure that they can have some kind of season.”

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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SWIMMING & DIVING

Coach: Susan Ferguson, fourth season

Top athletes: Boys — Marco Brunette, Ethan Deis, Adam Ellis and Blake Yates; Girls — Phoebe Ferguson, Jada Heren and Sam Schaefer

Key losses: Boys — Charlie Ferguson; Girls — Annie Volker and Meghan Watters

2019-20 MSL standings: Boys — Columbus Academy (238), Bexley (201), Wellington (175), Buckeye Valley (150), Grandview (111), Teays Valley (83), Bloom-Carroll (59), Logan Elm (50), Liberty Union (41), Fairfield Union (32), Worthington Christian (30), Zanesville Rosecrans (20), Hamilton Township (5); Girls — Columbus School for Girls (393), Academy (224), Grandview (158), Bexley (123), Liberty Union (102), Fairfield Christian (88), Wellington (66), Worthington Christian (59), Fairfield Union (50), Teays Valley (35), Buckeye Valley (33), Bloom-Carroll (24), Logan Elm (17), Circleville (4), Grove City Christian (4)

2020 postseason: Boys — Third at sectional, 12th at district, tied for 47th at state; Girls — First at sectional, sixth at district, 13th at state