HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Every time West Ottawa’s swimmers start another lap in the water, the streak is on their mind.

“After a couple years of being undefeated, you think it’s kind of cool,” Panthers boys swimming and diving head coach Steve Bowyer said. “Then the guys start to get a sense they don’t want to be the first to lose that first meet.”

It’s not just a couple years. It’s been about seven years, in fact, since the Panthers have lost a dual meet. That’s 56 meets and counting.

“It’s just something West Ottawa expects,” senior Jamahl Hogan said. “We expect to compete well and we know that we have to train hard to do it.”

“It’s a balance because in one sense, you want to use that to help motivate the guys to continue to swim fast in dual meets,” Bowyer added. “At the same time, you don’t want to put too much focus on it because we want to make sure we are doing the sort of things in practice that are getting us ready to swim fast at the end of the year.”

The end of the year is now and the Panthers are poised for another title. West Ottawa is one of the favorites to win a Division 1 state championship. 

Last year’s team took top spot on the podium after winning the final race of the meet by tenths of a second.

“It’s the big goal everyone wants,” senior Kyle Landon said. “Being able to live that and remember what it’s like pushes you to want it again.”

“That support in years where we might not have a Division 1 swimmer (headed to college), but that support and cheering on through every race and even at practice where guys are encouraging each other to finish a set strong,” senior Zach Goodwin said, “that’s what really makes this team special.”

The state championships are this Friday and Saturday:

  • West Ottawa competes at Oakland University.
  • Division 2 takes place at Holland Aquatic Center.
  • Division 3 takes place at Oakland University.