Pool play | AspenTimes.com

Pool play

Jon Maletz

The Aspen Recreation Center pool is primed. For the first time in a year, the Aspen Speedos swim team is once again ready to play host.Some 400 swimmers – ranging in age from 5 to 45-year-old Eney Jones of Gunnison – from 17 teams across Western Colorado will take to the pool this weekend in the Western Slope League Championship. For many, the meet is a culmination of a summer of hard work. For others, it will serve as a final tune-up or a last chance to qualify for next week’s state championships in Fort Collins.Action starts at 10 a.m. today when the 8-and-younger swimmers take to the pool in the first of six total sessions for the three-day event.”This weekend will give us great exposure, and the opportunity to show off our town and facilities,” second-year Speedos head coach Marc Teichman said during final preparations Thursday. “I’m looking forward to having a great meet as a team.”Forty-five swimmers will compete this weekend for the Speedos, who have been on the road every weekend since June 2. Among them are 10-year-olds Max Bryant, Claire Collier and Kelcie Gerson, who have all qualified for states and will compete in 27 races between them.Gerson and Collier – both in the top 16 in the state, according to Teichman – are seeded first and second, respectively, in the 100-yard freestyle; Collier is the first seed in the 50-yard butterfly, with Gerson second. In addition, Gerson is the top-rated swimmer in the 200-yard freestyle, 50-yard backstroke, 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke; Collier posted the fastest time of the season in the 100-yard butterfly. Gerson’s sister, 14-year-old Kaitlin, is the top seed in the 1,650-yard freestyle.Bryant is among the top 10 seeds in six of his eight races, including the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley. He will team up with 9-year-olds Alex Demas and Kinley Niebur, and 8-year-old Nick Morgan in both races. “We have three going [to states], and I’m hoping we can get one or two more,” Teichman said. “I think the kids can turn it on.” The team responded well to three tough days of practice this week, Teichman said. They have been refining their sprints and their technique, and the intensity is as strong as it has been all summer. “The kids look real sharp. I can see it in their posture,” Teichman said. “I think we’ll see some real quick swims this weekend.”Team supporters are hopeful this weekend generates enthusiasm for the sport in the community, board member Dr. Gordon Gerson said. To accommodate what the Speedos hope are large crowds, they teamed with Silvertree Hotel in Snowmass to offer affordable rates. Aspen High School will allow people to camp on the premises. Now that most of the preparation is finished, Teichman is focused on the moment when that first gun goes off.”All the top swimmers from this part of the state will be here,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for our local kids.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com