by Alan Babbitt
From upperclassmen to freshmen, five members of the Hope College men's swimming and diving team made big splashes for the Flying Dutchmen this season.
Diver Kamaron Wilcox joined swimmers Gabe Boonstra, Daniel Clyde, Daniel Keith and Bailey Smith in representing the Flying Dutchmen on the 2020 All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Men's Team.
Wilcox is the MIAA Men's Diver of the Year after sweeping the 1- and 3-meter boards at the conference. The sophomore from Ada, Michigan (Forest Hills Central) is Hope's first 1-meter MIAA champion.
"Kam's story is remarkable," head coach Jake Taber said. "And it's absolutely a testament to what you can accomplish when you commit to and put your mind to something. He's worked very hard to be where he is today. It's astounding that he's only a second-year diver. Coach (Becky) Garza has done a great job developing Kam, it's a testament to both of them and how they work together."
In his final season, Clyde won two events at the conference meet. The senior from Ann Arbor, Michigan (Huron) finished first in the 200-yard butterfly and the 200 individual medley en route to claiming All-MIAA honors in consecutive seasons.
He also joined Boonstra, Keith and Smith in breaking a 27-year-old school record while winning the 800 freestyle relay.
"Dan is absolutely our leader and he demonstrates this in more ways than one," Taber said. "For Dan to get back to where he was and swim faster than he ever had in his life after an off-season surgery, and then tearing ligaments in his elbow last fall, is a testament to his work ethic and commitment to achieving as much as he possibly can."
Keith swam on two MIAA championship relays for Hope. The junior from Saline, Michigan (Saline) is a two-time, All-MIAA honoree.
"Daniel is such a pleasure to coach and a student of the sport," Taber said. "Beyond that, he's a phenomenal teacher and mentor to the underclassman. Daniel is the type of guy that just makes your program better, it just so happens he's incredibly talented and well rounded."
In addition to swimming on two title-earning relays, Boonstra also won an individual event. The freshman from Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville) took first in the 200 freestyle.
"We knew Gabe was going to make a difference for us when he made the decision to come to Hope last spring," Taber said. "Here he is, an MIAA Recordholder in one event and a school record holder in two more just a year into his career and he's just scratching the surface. Gabe levers the water as well as anyone I've had the opportunity to work with. I believe the sky's the limit for him."
Smith, a freshman from Battle Creek, Michigan (Lakeview), claimed an MIAA title in the 1,650 freestyle.
"Bailey is such a great fit for Hope and this program," Taber said. "I look back at conversations with him and his club coach (Julie Youngquist of Lakeview Aquatic Club) about event possibilities prior to the season starting and there was a real question about whether or not he should go the 100 free or the 1650. A season later he's one of the best miler's the MIAA has ever seen and he's just a freshman! We are very excited about his future."