Gerson, Collier create formidable Speedos duo | AspenTimes.com

Gerson, Collier create formidable Speedos duo

Jon Maletz

With swimmers Kelcie Gerson and Claire Collier in the water this past weekend, it was time to take down the plaques at the Aspen Recreation Center; the pool’s best-ever finishes would need to be amended.The Aspen Speedos 10-year-olds, who wracked up some impressive results on the first day of the Western Slope League Championships on Friday, continued their consistent dominance for the weekend’s duration. The two combined to take top honors in six events Saturday and Sunday; Gerson, who, like Collier, posted eight top-five finishes, was the high-point winner among 9- and 10-year-old competitors.The Speedos – hosting just their second event in their new pool, and first since last summer – finished sixth out of 17 teams.”It’s great to have a teammate you can race against. They really push each other,” Speedos coach Marc Teichman said. “I’m excited for them.”Gerson, who, along with Collier and 10-year-old Max Bryant, qualified for the state championships next weekend in Fort Collins, finished first in four events. Gerson won the 200-yard freestyle, 50-yard backstroke, 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke. All told, she shaved 54 seconds off the previous best times posted in those events at the ARC.In addition, Gerson posted third-place finishes in the 50-yard butterfly and the 50-yard freestyle. She, along with teammates Collier, Rachel Demas and Nina Christensen, took fifth in the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relays. Gerson is slated to swim in seven events at states this weekend.”Kelcie will do the toughest sets I give her and never balk. It’s almost something she looks forward to,” Teichman said. “You never question whether she pushed it the whole way. She’s willing to put in the extra effort.”Gerson’s sister, 14-year-old Kaitlin, took the 1,650-yard freestyle title, finishing in 21:37.20. She was also part of the first-place 400-yard medley team that included Megan Karaus, M.E. Purnell and Ali Kerr. The same team took second in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Kaitlin Gerson also finished third in the 500 freestyle.In her second season on the Speedos, Collier finished first in the 100- and 50-yard fly – the two events she’ll swim in Fort Collins – setting pool records in both. Her time of 34.89 seconds in Sunday morning’s 50-yard fly bested the previous pool best by nearly seven seconds. Collier finished second behind her teammate in the 50-yard freestyle, took third in the 100-yard backstroke and posted fourth-place finishes in the 200-yard freestyle and 50-yard backstroke. Teichman said he is awed by Collier’s transformation in such a short period of time. He watched Collier struggle with disqualification for much of last summer. He also watched her emerge into a top-flight competitor.”I remember seeing her in that first meet [of the fall 2005 season],” Teichman said. “I almost fell over. “For some kids, it just clicks. They can just hit a switch and go.”Collier and Gerson, both ranked in the top-16 in the state, have benefited greatly from swimming in adjacent lanes during practice, Teichman said. They push each other. Gerson, who exhibits great skill and endurance, and Collier, whose calling card is her raw power, always have something they can learn from one another. Teichman said he is excited about their prospects next weekend. Gerson and Collier will be making their second and first state appearances, respectively.”I firmly believe they want to race and to do well. This is a great source of pride,” he said. “They’ll be nervous, but that also gets the adrenaline pumping and motivates them to get in their best form.”In his final competitive tune-up before making his first state championship appearance, Bryant posted six top-five results. He finished third in the 50-yard backstroke – his state qualifying event – as well as both the 200-yard medley and freestyle relays. He was fourth in the 50- and 100-yard breaststroke, and was fifth in the 50-yard freestyle.”This is a great opportunity for them to face some stiff competition and be pushed from start to finish,” Teichman said. “We’ll push them hard this week to get them ready. Sometimes I have to keep in mind that they’re only 10.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com