She’s only into her junior year but Gracie Olsen has already reached the Mt. Rushmore conversation when it comes to Fenton High School’s top athletes of all time.
The Mt. Rushmore conversation in sports terms is a discussion of the three best athletes for a given subject. It’s easy to see why she’s in that discussion. In her first two seasons with the Fenton varsity girls swim team, Olsen captured three Division 2 individual event state championships and one individual event runner-up finish.
She is preparing for Saturday’s D2 Girls State Swimming and Diving Championship to be held at Grand Rapids Northview High School.
Olsen is one of seven Tigers who will compete at the state meet, and she’ll be a favorite to possibly earn two more individual event state championships. In fact, she enters the state meet as clearly the top seed in the 200 yard freestyle (1:51.28) and the 100 yard butterfly (55.17) by more than a one-second gap in each event. Olsen understands the legacy she’s created during her prep career.
“I do think about it,” Olsen said. “I’ve been told a couple of times (about her historical accomplishments). It’s very motivational more than anything. I try to stay humble and I think it’s super cool. But what I am really glad about is I have one of the best teams to train with and some of the best teams out there.”
Comments like that don’t come out of Olsen without questions prodding those statements, which reflects just how humble she is. Talking about her teammates is much more natural for her.
It’s already challenging to find someone with Olsen’s credentials as impressive as hers in Fenton school history. If she won two more state championships this weekend, Olsen should likely lock up that top spot with her senior season still remaining.
But nothing is a given this season. With COVID-19, training has been extremely difficult for swimmers. The state meet was suspended twice already, and has interrupted traditional training methods. Usually swimmers work hard, gaining mileage during the season. Then, as the state meet approaches they lessen their work load to create added energy for the state event. With the practice sessions interrupted twice this season, it’s likely no swimmer will match the times they expected to if the actual event happened in November.
“We started (practicing) together last week,” Olsen said. Before that, I was going to Lakeland High School. ... I was there with a group of girls. It was really cool to see a lot of
other swimmers from all over the place practicing by themselves. It just showed a lot of dedication. It was really great to see everyone come together and show a lot of pride.”
Just having a state meet will feel like an accomplishment.
“I think it’s really great we are able to pull this off after all of this,” Olsen said. “We were really uncertain anything was going to happen. I think it’s great we get a chance, especially for our seniors.”
The Tigers’ other competitors at the state meet will be Maddie Kaz-mierski (100 butterfly and the 500 freestyle), Abigail Dolliver (100 breaststroke) and Sophie Stefanac (100 freestyle and 100 backstroke) in individual events. Delaney Fries, Rose Haney and Halee Alexander also will attend and will compete on the Tigers’ relays. All three Fenton relays are qualified with the 400 freestyle relay team of Olsen, Stefanac, Fries and Dolliver seeded third.
The adversity of the season is going to make the state meet special.
“Absolutely it’s going to be super special,” Olsen said. “Our time trial meet we had back in November was super special too, but the fact that they were able to pull this off is special.
“I just want to go and see what happens. My club team had a meet in Elkhart, Indiana a few weeks ago and this is kind of like another follow up. I’m excited to see what happens. I just want us to have a good time.”