Aspen Speedos hit the jackpot in Las Vegas |

Aspen Speedos hit the jackpot in Las Vegas

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Members of the Aspen Speedos get serious at the Las Vegas Invitational.
Courtesy photo |

The Aspen Speedos hit the jackpot in Las Vegas.

The Aspen youth swim team traveled to Nevada last weekend to compete in an elite regional swim meet featuring top swim clubs from California and throughout the West.

The smallest club competing, by a large margin, the Aspen Speedos made a lasting impression on the prestigious field with dozens of top age-group finishes — in record-setting times, no less.

“It was an awesome meet for the team,” said Gordon Gerson, longtime head coach and director of the Aspen Speedos. “It was, frankly, a privilege to compete with those teams.”

He said the meet, the Las Vegas Invitational hosted by the powerhouse Sandpipers Swim Club, drew many of the top teams from their respective regions of the western United States.

“Clovis is the No. 1 team in the central California (region),” Gerson said, adding that Southern California powers like Santa Maria also competed along with the top clubs in Colorado — Jeffco, Highlands Ranch, Colorado Athletic Club.

North Bay from the California Pacific region, another top power, also had a squad in Las Vegas.

“I’m pretty sure most people didn’t know about this Aspen team that was coming to meet,” Gerson said. “But I’m pretty sure they do now.”

The pink-cap wearing Speedos posted dozens of top age-group finishes against the top-flight competition.

The Speedos won one relay event and finished second in two others.

The Aspen girls ended up fifth overall among the girls team in Las Vegas.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them … a group effort,” Gerson said.

The Speedos were led by a first-place finish in the girls 800 freestyle relay. The swimmers included Charlie Mechling, Maddie Mechling, Samantha Terranova and Kennidy Quist.

The same foursome teamed to finished second in the 400 free relay.

And the Speedos team of Davey Brown, Terranova, Charlie Mechling and Quist finished second in the 400 medley relay in Las Vegas.

“Kennidy (Quist) had a great meet,” Gerson said, pointing to blazing fast times for the 16-year-old. “She won the 100 free in 51.66 (seconds). She won the 50 free in 23.88. She took fifth in the 100 breast in 1:05.86. She got second in the 200 free in 1:52.36.”

She also finished third in the 200 individual medley in 2:09.56. And she added a fourth in the 500 freestyle (5:02.16).

“All in all, her points added up, she was tied for the most by any girl in the meet,” Gerson said.

Davey Brown, coming off injury, swam on the podium relay team.

“She still managed to put up a really fast time in the 100 back — 58.42,” Gerson said as she finished atop the 15-16 age group.

Brown also was sixth in the 100 free in 54.79, seventh in the 200 back in 2:07.47, fifth in the 200 breast (2:31.61), second in the 200 individual medley (2:11.50), third in the 400 IM (4:42.59) and second in the 50 free (24.92).

“This was the first big travel meet for Shea (Card),” Gerson said. “This was his last meet as an 11-12 year-old.”

Card was fifth in the 50 backstroke, sixth in the 50 breast, fourth in the 100 breast, eighth in the 100 fly and seventh in the 200 IM.

“Nathan Cherry didn’t score but he dropped time in every single event,” Gerson said. “Solid meet for him.”

He said Emily Driscoll dropped 15 seconds for her best time in the 400 IM in Nevada.

“That was an impressive swim,” he said of her finish in (5:04.34).

“Hannah (Freeman) had almost all time drops including 38 seconds in the 1,000 and 14 seconds in the 500,” Gerson said.

Charlie Mechling, in addition to relay duty, finished first in the 50 freestyle, seventh in the 100 back, fifth in the 100 breast, sixth in the 100 butterfly, seventh in the 100 free, third in the 200 free and eighth in the 200 IM.

“Maddie had a very good meet,” Gerson said.

“She was second in the 100 back in 1:00.43. “She broke a Kelcie (Gerson) record she’s been chasing.” Kelcie Gerson, the daughter of the head coach, is currently swimming for Columbia University.

Maddie Mechling also finished second in the 100 breast with a huge time drop in the finals.

“She was second in the 100 free … 54.32. That’s a very good time for a 13-year-old,” Gerson said. Mechling also was second in the 100 back, fourth in the 200 back, second in the 200 free, fifth in the 50 free, sixth in the 500 free and seventh in the 200 IM.

“Everett Olson had some time drops. It was nice to see him get back on top of his game,” Gerson said, adding that Sophia Perry had a major time drop of 5 seconds in the 200 back in her first big travel meet.

“Cole (Petersen) continues to get better and better,” Gerson said. “He took down some of Max Bryant’s team records.” Bryant, an Aspen Speedos product, is swimming at Southern Methodist University.

Petersen finished sixth in the 100 breast and third in the 200 breast (2:22.62).

“That’s close to a super-fast Max (Bryant) record,” Gerson said.

Petersen also finished fifth in the 500 free at the Las Vegas event.

“Paige Quist didn’t score any, but she had some good swims,” Gerson said.

Micah Sanders-Silva, who just turned 11, finished eighth in the 100 breast in one of his first big meets in the 11-12 age division..

“I was impressed he registered points,” Gerson said. “And he got best times in most of his events.”

Samantha Terranova, the Steamboat Springs swimmer who competes with the Aspen Speedos, had another strong meet as she rounds into form, Gerson said.

She was fourth in the 100 back, fourth in the 100 fly, fourth in the 200 back, third in the 200 free, fourth in the 200 IM and second in the 500 free.

“We’ll definitely go back to this meet next year,” Gerson said.