Aspen girls shine at Western Slope swim championships |

Aspen girls shine at Western Slope swim championships

Staff report
The Aspen TImes
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Aspen’s swimmers weren’t in contention for a team title at the 2013 Western Slope Girls’ High School swimming championships, but they made their presence felt. They won four of 11 swimming events and had top-three finishes in four other events en route to finishing a program-best fifth place.

Kelli Callahan and Claire Collier led the way with a pair of victories each. Head coach Kathleen Callahan said she was pleased with the performance of her small squad.

“To come in fifth overall with only five girls in the finals is amazing,” Kathleen Callahan said.

The meet got off to a promising start when the quartet of Kelcie Gerson, Callahan, Collier and Taylor Bellhouse destroyed the team record in the 200-yard medley relay en route to a second-place finish.

Gerson was quickly back on the blocks to capture third place in the 200 free. Abbie Clark reduced her time by 11 seconds to place 31st.

Callahan continued Aspen’s string of podium appearances in the next event, the 200 individual medley, with a thrilling victory by the slimmest of margins, 2:14.79 to 2:15.06, over defending champion Logan Morris, of Montrose. Nina Christensen captured eighth place in the same final.

Collier used her potent underwater kicking ability for a convincing win in the 50 free in 24.86. Lindsay Herndon took 35th in the same race.

After a break for the diving competition, Collier was back in the water to win the 100 fly in a blazing 58.72.

“Claire’s swimming this year has been stunning. What a great way to finish her high school career,” Kathleen Callahan said.

Not to be outdone, Kelli Callahan won the next event, the 100 free, in 56.15.

“Winning two events as a freshman at leagues is quite an accomplishment,” Kathleen Callahan said.

Bellhouse, Clark, Abbi Nichols and Herndon just missed the top 16 with a 20th-place finish in the 200 free relay. In the 100 backstroke, defending champion Gerson came up just short as Brooke Kniffin, of Durango, out-touched her by 59.24 to 59.79. Gerson’s return from an injury- and illness-laden season to record a personal best was a particular highlight for her coach.

Aspen registered its final points with a third-place finish in the 400 free relay. The foursome of Collier, Callahan, Christensen and Gerson smashed the previous team record by 20 seconds.

In all, the Aspen girls set eight team records at the meet. All eight girls will head to Denver this week for the state championships. Kelli Callahan, Collier and Gerson will each compete in two individual events, the maximum allowed, and a pair of relays. Bellhouse and Christensen will race on relays, while Herndon, Clark and Nichols will be relay alternates. The team will look to improve on last year’s program-best 24th place finish.

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