Athletics (video)

Oxygen is overrated

Swimmer balances life in and out of the water

Underwater

by Leah (Zuber) Twilley

The pool in the Fieldhouse on the Allendale Campus is like a second home for Grand Valley swimmer Sven Kardol.

When hes not in class or sleeping, the Netherlands native can be found doing homework in the stands or hanging out with his swimming and diving teammates near the pool.

He specializes in the backstroke and individual medley (IM), which consists of a single swimmer swimming equal distances of four different strokes within one race.

As a first-year student last year, Kardol qualified for the 2012 NCAA Championships in Texas, and he placed within the top 16 in the 400-yard IM, 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard backstroke. He was named the GLIAC Mens Swimming Athlete of the Week in January 2012.

Kardols love for swimming began when he started lessons as a 3-year-old. He started competing when he was 8, then went on to compete on his high school swim team.


Sven Kardol and Laker swimmers pose for a photo.

Kardol, a sophomore majoring in math and physics, said after he decided to study in the U.S., he received a list of nine schools that were within his budget and field of study. He said he chose Grand Valley because of its impressive academic reputation.

Andy Boyce, coach of the Laker team, said Kardol has made a huge impact on the team. During his first year, Kardol finished in the top eight at three regional conference meets and placed in the top 16 at three national meets.

He is very dedicated to the sport and is always asking questions about what he can do to be the best student-athlete he can be, said Boyce.

Kardol said the most challenging part of being a swimmer is getting up early in the morning for practice. His schedule consists of three 5 a.m. practices per week, and two-hour practices each afternoon. The rush of having control in the water is Kardols favorite part about swimming. When youre racing, everything around you doesnt matter. All that matters is what youre doing in the water, he said.

After graduation, Kardol hopes to earn a masters degree in applied physics in the Netherlands and find a position in research.

Waterproof awards and facts:

  • The team includes both men and women student-athletes. It was founded in 1984
  • The team competes against many Division I schools, including Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin and Ball State University.
  • Mens swimming and diving placed first at the GLIAC Mens Swimming & Diving Championship in Detroit in February 2010. The team has placed in the top three within the last three years and has taken a title each year since 2005.
  • The womens highest national finish was sixth place in 2012 at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Texas; the mens highest finish was fourth place in 2010.
  • Grand Valley swimmer Aaron Beebe competed in U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials in July 2012.