Aspen swimmer shines at state meet | AspenTimes.com

Aspen swimmer shines at state meet

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Max Bryant admittedly was a tad overwhelmed at last year’s 4A swim and dive state championships. The Aspen High sophomore appeared to be in his element in his second appearance, however.

Bryant, a co-captain on Glenwood High School’s swim team, kept pace with a pool full of upperclassmen Friday and Saturday in Thornton. In addition to participating in two relays – the 200-yard medley and 200 freestyle – that finished 15th, he logged two top-10 individual finishes.

“Four seniors finished ahead of him in each race. That bodes really well,” quipped Gordon Gerson, who coaches Bryant on the Aspen Speedos club squad. “He’s a darn good swimmer. … Both were best times, and breaking the two-minute barrier in the 200 IM is awesome.”

Bryant qualified seventh in Friday’s 500 freestyle preliminaries in 4 minutes, 55.65 seconds to secure a spot in the eight-swimmer A finals.

He climbed the leaderboard in Saturday’s finals, dropping three seconds off his preliminaries mark en route to a sixth-place finish and a team-record time of 4:52.39.

“I definitely was more comfortable than last year, when I was going against a guy who was going to Cornell to swim,” Bryant said. “I was a little nervous before, but I didn’t let it faze me. I swam my own race. I went out slower than everybody else, but I paced it well and finished right with them.”

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Bryant swam well again in his 200 individual medley preliminary heat, finishing second to eventual state champion Connor Dwyer from Longmont while recording a time of 2:00.44. That mark bested a team record Bryant set at last week’s Western Slope meet and secured him the No. 6 spot in the finals.

He went out slow in the finals and found himself in eighth position with about 100 yards remaining. Bryant picked up the pace down the stretch, however, powering to the wall in seventh in 1:59.43 – a new team record.

“I’m pretty strong at the butterfly – it’s probably my best – so I don’t usually go out sprinting. I can mostly keep up with those guys apart from the really big ones,” Bryant said. “I went out about even with the back four or five kids. I maybe passed them a little on the breaststroke and the freestyle – I haven’t watched any tapes of the race.

“My goal was to make two A finals and break two minutes. I’m happy about it – that’s a big barrier to break. I wasn’t expecting to place too high as a sophomore, so I’m really pleased.”

Bryant’s results were among the best an Aspen High swimmer has ever recorded at the state meet. Competing for Glenwood in 2004, then-senior Alina Roberts took third in the 100 backstroke and fourth in the 50 freestyle.

“Max has really lofty goals, and after going out and having great results like he had this weekend, he’s probably not satisfied, which is OK,” Gerson said. “He wants to win, and I have no problem with him having that attitude. He’s going to be hungry for more, but I hope he at least has a little smile on his face because of this accomplishment.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com