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The Greenhills/FGR/Whitmore Lake co-op swim team holds its home meets at Whitmore Lake High School, more than 10 miles from Greenhills. The meets are almost always at night. There’s not much space for spectators to sit, and scores aren’t announced in real time, so no one can even tell who’s winning and who’s losing until the meet is over and the officials read the results.

All of this means that, usually, the swim team doesn’t have many fans watching its meets. Usually, that is — unless it’s Spirit Week.

Dozens of Greenhills students packed the seats and stairs overlooking the pool for the team’s Thursday night Spirit Week meet against Allen Park Cabrini. The Gryphon crowd earned multiple reprimands from the official for cheering too enthusiastically, and filled the room with an energy that powered the team forward. In front of their screaming fans, the Greenhills/FGR/Whitmore Lake swimmers took their strokes into a new gear and cruised to a dominant 132-45 win, by far their strongest performance of the season.

“They were definitely feeling the vibe of the crowd and the energy from having that many people here,” said head coach Eileen Noble. “We had a lot of great swims tonight, and it was great to see a lot of fans and students come out. That’s not normal for us, but it’s always fun when it happens.”

The team was celebrating the return of one of its captains, Caeden Couch ’22, who had missed the previous two meets. Couch is a key member of the team, both for his senior leadership and for his skill in the water. He already holds Greenhills records in the 50-, 100-, and 200-meter freestyle, the 200-meter individual medley, and the 100-meter backstroke. He was also a member of Greenhills’ record-holding teams in both the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay. This season, of course, he’s looking to break as many of his own records as he can.

Joining Couch in the pool were juniors James Kluge and Leo Applegate. Kluge holds the school record in the 100-meter butterfly, while Applegate holds the record in the 500-meter freestyle. All three were also members of the record-setting 400-meter freestyle relay team last season.

“Having Caden back in the water is great,” Noble said. “He’s a kid who will work hard day and night, and is ready to go, but also ready to pull his teammates through and make sure that they’re also working at their best and doing their best as well.”

Applegate, meanwhile, won the 500-meter freestyle by more than 30 seconds. But he also helped the team in a less tangible, but perhaps just as important, way.

“I let Leo give the pep talk today,” Noble said. “He was all hype. I’ll be honest, I understood about half of it. It was mostly just loud yelling and jumping around. But it got them going. It really got their heart rates ready to go.”

The team’s younger members also stepped up and continued their season-long improvements. Freshman Ishan Leahy, the team’s only diver from Greenhills, scored a 152, his best mark of the season. Sophomore Yoel Bechar, in his first year with the team, set new season bests in both the 100-meter backstroke and the 50-meter freestyle.

“Yoel really had a great night tonight,” Noble said. “A lot of personal bests, and frankly they’ve been working hard for them. We’ve seen that work in practice, and now it’s paying off, which is really nice. We’ve got kids who are newer stepping up and showing what they’ve got.”

The march toward States continues, and the team’s times are still moving in the right direction. There’s still work to be done, of course; in swimming, where a few seconds can mean the difference between a new record and a third-place finish, the work never stops. Almost immediately after the meet ended, Noble confirmed to her team that they would reconvene the following morning for their regular 6:00 a.m. practice. And then again later that day for a 3:30 p.m. practice. And then again the next day, for their Saturday morning practice. On Saturday mornings, of course, the team doesn’t practice at 6:00; that would be absurd. They get to sleep in all the way until 7:00 a.m.

But the team embraces the work, because it leads to moments like this: personal bests, new records, state qualifiers, meet wins. In front of a crowd of cheering fans, this meet was the perfect storm.

“Having it be spirit week for Greenhills helps, because they’re all so pumped for it every year,” Noble said. “Having the team back together, having it at a home meet, having a home meet with a crowd like this…it’s just night and day, the energy that you see on the pool deck.”

Saturday, April 24
Open to anyone ages 16 and up. Limited quantities available.
Greenhills is closed for mid-winter break and will return on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

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