Aspen Speedos impress at state |

Aspen Speedos impress at state

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS ” The new kid on the block has staying power.

If they were intimidated by the pressure of competing in this past weekend’s Colorado State Swimming Championships in Colorado Springs, the young Aspen Speedos sure didn’t show it. Instead, the team’s seven swimmers led Aspen to one of its most impressive performances in program history.

The Speedos logged 10 top-10 finishes and wound up 23rd out of a field of 46 despite competing against much larger teams. Aspen’s 154 points were the most it has ever compiled in a state meet.

“I’m just excited to see kids get in and swim their best times,” Aspen head coach Marc Teichman said Wednesday. “There’s a little pressure and nervousness for the younger kids. There’s a challenge to getting up there and not getting totally freaked out and swimming their best.

“For me a high place is just gravy.”

Bring on the gravy.

Claire Collier posted the team’s best result, finishing second in the 50-meter butterfly. The 12-year-old, who missed the Western Slope Swimming Championships in Grand Junction one week earlier because of an illness, posted two other top 10’s ” a fourth place in the 50 backstroke and a 10th in the 200 butterfly.

Collier, who trained just twice before heading to Colorado Springs, also finished 12th in the 100 fly.

“When she gets up and puts her mind into the race, she’s real tough,” Teichman said. “She’s a natural in the butterfly and when she gets in, it’s fun to watch.”

Teammates Kelcie Gerson and Max Bryant also made a splash in Colorado Springs. Gerson, who was third in the 50 backstroke at last year’s state meet, finished 11th or better in five disciplines. She took fourth in the 100 and 200 backstroke, ninth in the 50 backstroke and individual medley and 11th in the 200 butterfly.

The 12-year-old Team Colorado member, who left Wednesday for the Far Western Championships in San Jose, Calif., led the Speedos in scoring.

Bryant, meanwhile, finished in the top 16 in all seven of his races. He was seventh in the 200 breast stroke and 200 butterfly, eighth in the 400 individual medley, 11th in the 50 and 100 breast stroke and 16th in the 100 butterfly.

“This was a big step up for him from the last state meet,” Teichman said. Bryant was 23rd in the 50 backstroke in his first trip to state in 2007. “He just kept racking up the events…. The more he learns and the more experience that comes with it, racing will get easier for him.”

Teichman also said that Collier, Gerson and Bryant all seemed more comfortable and confident in their second trip to state.

“They knew the format and knew what to expect,” he added. “I also think it’s better that there were more kids at the meet. There was a lot more camaraderie than them being on their own.”

State newcomer Kim Sandbach finished 15th in the 10-and-under butterfly to earn points for Aspen. Hunter Bryant narrowly missed out on scoring after taking 17th in both the 50 and 100 breast stroke.

Sandbach teamed with her sister, Leigh, Collier and Gerson to finish 15th in the 200 medley relay. She, Collier, Gerson and Emily Ridings then took 16th in the 200 freestyle relay.

“They’re all competitive kids who put in the work, and it’s great to see things come to fruition,” Teichman said. “They had some great swims. I can’t ask for much more than that.”

The coach expects more of the same to follow.

“This is a huge step for the kids. … I think it’s a great confidence builder,” Teichman added. “We’re kind of getting used to the idea that we’re the new kid on the block. We’re definitely growing and moving up the rankings. It’s been fun to see that happen.”

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