GROSSE POINTE, Mich. - Through the first two weeks of the season, the De La Salle Collegiate swimmers and divers competed against the best.
And that's not stretching the truth one bit.
The Pilots opened the season at the Brother Rice Warriors Relays, where they competed against eight state-ranked teams, including Ann Arbor Pioneer (No. 2 in Division 1), Birmingham Groves (No. 2 in Division 2), Brother Rice (No. 5 in Division 2), U-D Jesuit (No. 6 in Division 1), Dexter (No. 8 in Division 2), Ann Arbor Huron (No. 9 in Division 2), Grand Blanc (honorable mention in Division 1) and Cranbrook (No. 4 in Division 3).
As if that wasn't tough enough, coach Jim Singelyn's team returned to the pool on Saturday, where it faced off against three ranked Division 2 teams - No. 2 Groves, No. 3 Midland Dow, and No. 7 Grosse Pointe South - in a quad hosted by the Blue Devils. It certainly has been a bit of a reality check for the team.
"They got a taste of it," said Singelyn, whose team finished fourth among the four teams. "If they want to stay an elite program, they're going to have to work. They're going to have to work really hard. We've only got a few year-round guys on our team. Very few."
Grosse Pointe South ruled the day, finishing with 603 points. Dow was runner-up with 499, followed by Groves (413) and De La Salle (243).
The highlight performance of the day came in diving, as junior Joseph Basha took home first place with a score of 298.10. Teammates Justin Burke was third (211.25) and Sam Bickley eighth in what was De La Salle's best event of the quad.
The Pilots had a few other top-eight finishes, two of which came from junior Juan DiCosmo. The co-captain finished runner-up in the 200 individual medley (2:07.68) and was fifth in the 100 butterfly.
Sophomore Max Swiatkowski finished third in the 500 freestyle (5:10.31) and fourth in the 200 freestyle for the Pilots. Sophomore Michael Paluch was sixth in the IM and eighth in the 100 breaststroke.
DiCosmo, a returning state qualifier who swims year-round, said Saturday's quad could serve as an eye-opener for him and his teammates moving forward.
"At practice, they can be thinking that they're doing things just fine, but then you get to a meet like this and you begin to realize there are a lot of other people out there doing the exact same things you are, but a lot better," DiCosmo said. "Turns, starts, breathing patterns, everything across the board (has to get better). Coach sometimes doesn't have an assistant (at practices) telling you what you need to be doing all the time. So really it's up to each guy to determine how he wants to perform, the amount of work he wants to put in. That should motivate us and hopefully put us on the right track."
The team has a couple of weeks off from competition, time which Singelyn hopes can be used to clean up the little things the team needs to work on.
"These are elite teams, like where we used to be. So we need to get back there," the coach said. "It shows you that when you graduate 5-6 (veteran) guys, you've now got some work to do. That's where we're at. We've got a long way to go. We've got a lot of work to do."