The Flying Dutchmen return a nucleus of veterans who will be seeking to repeat as champions of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association for a third consecutive year and to be competitive on a national level.
Hope swimming and diving is directed by John Patnott who launched it as an intercollegiate program in 1978. Since its founding the Flying Dutchmen have finished first or second every season in the MIAA and scored points at the NCAA Division III championships every year except one and that was back in 1988. The Flying Dutchmen have won the MIAA championship 11 times in school history.
This year's pre-season roster includes 23 returning letterwinners comprised of 11 sophomores, three juniors and nine seniors. The team also did well at recruiting with nine freshman propsects.
Senior tri-captains of the team include Phil Heyboer of Zeeland, Mich. (Holland Christian HS), Ryan Nelis of Holland, Mich. (West Ottawa HS), and Matt Ray of Holland, Mich. (Holland HS).
Six returning swimmers scored at nationals last year. Senior Ryan Nelis was 14th in the 100-yard butterfly and 15th in the 200-yard butterfly, senior Mitch Ruch of Zeeland, Mich. (Zeeland West HS), was 10th in the 200-yard backstroke, and senior Phil Heyboer was 12th in the 400-yard individual medley. Senior Brandon King of Willowbrook, Ill. (Hinsdale Township HS); senior Mitch Ruch of Zeeland, Mich. (Zeeland West HS) and senior Aaron Welsch of Saint Peters, Mo. (Fort Zumwalt South HS) were members of relay teams that finish 11th in the 200-yard freestyle, 12th in the 400-yard freestyle relay; 12th in the 400-yard medley relay and 15th in the 200-yard medley relay. Also competing at nationals was sophomore Jeff Shade of Davison (Davison HS), 500-yard and 1,650 yard freestyle.
Five returning swimmers were All-MIAA honorees last year -- Heyboer, Nelis, Ruch. Welsch and Shade. Returning defending MIAA champions include Heyboer in the 400-yared individual medley , Ray Nelis in the 100-yard and 200 yard butterfly and Jeff Shade in the 1,650-yard freestyle. Nelis, who holds the MIAA record in both the 100 and 200 butterfly, will be bidding for a fourth consecutive MIAA title in the 200 fly. Heyboer, the league record holder in the 400 individual medley, will also be bidding for a fourth straight championship.
Seven Hope records are held by current team members -- Jeff Shade in the 1,000-yard and 1,650-yard freestyles, Mitch Ruch in the 200-yard backstroke, Jeff Heyboer in 400-yard IM, and Ryan Nelis in the 100-yard anmf 200-yard butterfly and 400-yard IM.
Other returning letterwinners include sophomore Steven Ansilio of Western Springs, Ill. (Lyons Township HS), sophomore Patrick Frayer of Grand Rapids (East Grand Rapids HS), sophomore Michael Huisingh of Holland (Holland HS), sophomore Thomas Knecht of Grand Rapids Grand Rapids Christian HS), sophomore Benjamin O'Dell of Oswego, Ill. (Oswego Community HS), senior James Richardson of Mount Vernon, Ohio (Mount Vernon HS), sophomore Aaron Rittenhouse of Fort Wayne, Ind. (Homstead HS), sophomore Andrew Rose of Holland (Grandville HS), junior Clayton Summers of Zeeland (Zeeland East HS), senior Nicholas Stone of Westland (John Glenn HS), senior Cody Tozer of Sturgis (Sturgis HS), sophomore Trevor VanderHart of Caledonia (Caledonia HS), junior Austin Veltman of Ada (Forest Hills Eastern HS), junior Mark Waterstone of Holland (Holland HS), and sophomore Brian Yount of Franklin, Ind. (Franklin Community HS).