DLS head swimming coach Jim Singelyn, '90, did something in 2021 that he had never done prior in his 12 years coaching at the school: He taught a student-athlete how to swim.
The student ended up becoming a part of the Pilots' diving team, and even qualified for regionals.
His name: DeNiro Johnson.
Johnson, a member of the DLS varsity football team, proved that he was serious about learning from Singelyn immediately.
The junior showed up at the Warren Woods Tower pool at 8 a.m. the morning after losing in the MHSAA Division 2 state championship football game to Muskegon Mona Shores.
According to Singelyn, it took Johnson only about an hour to learn how to swim.
Then, Singelyn took it a step further, and got Johnson jumping off the diving board.
"DeNiro's a natural athlete, and I saw him doing backflips in the gym one day, which made me think that he should try diving," Singelyn said. "And we just kept having him dive over and over again until he felt comfortable doing it."
Johnson proceeded to meet DLS diving coach Kory Hison the following Monday. And, through Hison's and fellow Pilots diver Joey Basha's guidance, Johnson became an MHSAA regional qualifier.
Meanwhile, Basha has only added to his standout career.
An All-American qualifier three times and a two-time Macomb County Diver of the Year, Basha won the Catholic League diving championship for the third time in his career, and finished second in the Macomb County Championship meet. He also qualified for states by finishing fifth in MHSAA regional competition.
As a team, DLS finished fourth in the Macomb County Championship and fifth in the CHSL swimming championships.
The Pilots who qualified for states were senior Juan DiCosmo in the 200-yard individual medley, sophomore Carson Ricker in the 100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard butterfly, junior Michael Paluch in the 100-yard breaststroke, the 400-yard freestyle relay team of junior Max Swiatkowski, DiCosmo, Ricker, and freshman Devin Dilger, and Dilger in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyles.
Swiatkowski also qualified for states in the 200-yard individual medley, and won the 100-yard backstroke at the county meet.
Additionally, Dilger won the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyles at both the Macomb County Championship and the CHSL championship meet.
Other state qualifiers were senior Joe Marable and sophomore Michael Slusser, as part of the 200-yard freestyle relay team -- along with Paluch and DiCosmo. Meanwhile, senior Jack Lubinski was DLS's 200-yard freestyle relay alternate.
At the MHSAA Div. 2 swimming and diving state finals at Jenison High School, Dilger placed fifth in the 100-yard freestyle and sixth in the 50-yard freestyle, garnering all-state recognition in both races.
Meanwhile, Basha finished fifth in the diving final, becoming an all-state diver for the fourth time in as many years -- the first four-time all-state diver in school history.
"The boys proved they can handle anything this season, and never wavered from their goals," Singelyn said. "And for that, I am immensely proud of them."