Aspen’s Kayla Tehrani reflects on being named Class 3A’s swimmer of the year
Kayla Tehrani is a teenager at the end of the day, and sometimes those characteristics stand out. Other times, notably during swim meets, the Aspen High School junior is a driven, ferocious competitor, a key trait that has turned her into one of the state’s top swimmers.
“I’d like to see her consistently work as hard in practice as she does in competition,” AHS girls swim coach Katherine Keel said. “Kayla is one of the most motivated swimmers I’ve ever coached. She’ll complain about warming down or longer distance sets in practice, but it’s more of a shtick, as it’s obvious there is a fire burning inside her to be the best. Any challenge or doubt motivates her even more, and she lights it up when it matters most.”
Last month, the Colorado High School Activities Association announced that Tehrani had been named the Class 3A girls swimmer of the year for this past season, dubbed “Season B” during this unique pandemic school year. She was a key piece — if not the key piece — in the Skiers finishing second in Class 3A to state champion Evergreen, despite having another small roster.
CHSAA made the postseason award announcements via an article on its website, quietly rolling it out to the world a few weeks after the state meet had ended and unbeknown to either Tehrani or her coach. Tehrani found out through a friend of her mother’s, who happened to stumble upon the article a few days later.
“It was really cool to get that and show a Western Slope team can do the same thing that Front Range teams are doing. So it was really cool to get that recognition,” Tehrani said. “Our team, we ended really well. Two state wins and then finishing with that award, it really brought the whole thing together. And I think even though the season was shorter, I was able to accomplish a lot. I’m pretty happy.”
Tehrani was part of two state championship wins in the 3A finale back in March. She won an individual title in the 100-yard butterfly (57.37 seconds), and was part of the 200-yard medley relay that won state in 1 minute, 49.76 seconds. Lilly Huggard, Emily Kinney and Bennett Jones were also part of that relay. All four girls were named first team all-state for their win.
Tehrani, Jones, Kinney and Laila Khan-Farooqi also made second team all-state for their runner-up finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:40.79), losing by only .06 seconds. Jones even finished second in the 200-yard IM (2:10.06).
“These girls earned every single point that we scored and for that I am so proud,” Keel said of the team finishing second at state each of her first two seasons as the coach. “To have Kayla win swimmer of the year is exciting on so many fronts. Obviously it’s great because she deserves it and has worked hard to be where she is today. She smashed the school record in the 100 fly, and has consistently lowered her times.”
Kinney was the team’s only senior this season, meaning the Skiers should be in prime position to make another run at the state title. AHS won the inaugural 3A girls championship in 2017 under former coach Kathleen Callahan.
For Tehrani, her swimmer of the year recognition will certainly put her on top of the list of athletes to watch entering her senior season.
“People definitely know who I am now, for sure,” Tehrani said. “My senior year is going to be defending my title, making sure I’m not forgotten. I need to make sure I’m still there. I’m obviously going to be somebody other teams are looking out for and I’m excited to see what competition comes.”
Tehrani is all in on swimming. She competes year round, including through the Aspen Swim Club, and has left most other sports and activities far behind. She absolutely wants to continue to swim in college and has begun the process of reaching out to collegiate coaches, and would be the latest addition to a long list of recent local swimmers to continue their careers after high school.
This coming summer and into the winter will be a lot about hitting the times the coaches want and hopefully earning a spot on a roster somewhere. Tehrani is the only swimmer in her family and also said she’ll be the first from her household to attend an American university.
As far as that swimmer of the year award? Well, she forgot it even existed until she found out she had won. And she’s happy to share the honors with her teammates, even if it’s her name on the award.
“I love my team. There is no way one person can do that alone and I wouldn’t have gotten the award without the relay,” Tehrani said. “I don’t think going into that meet I would have been able to do that alone. I get that I’m getting the recognition for it, but I feel like that should be given to my whole team. We did all work together for that relay. We are all there and have each other’s backs.”