Aspen Speedos take control in home meet
The Aspen Times
Pink swim caps.
Lots of pink caps.
And lots of swimmers wearing pink caps.
The Aspen Speedos celebrated last weekend with a triumphant victory in their annual home swim meet, named this year in honor of Ned Mechling.
The longtime supporter of the Aspen Speedos and an actively involved parent in the swim club died earlier this year after surgery. His legacy and his dedication to youth swimming were acknowledged by head coach Gordon Gerson and the Speedos, who made a huge splash in Ned Mechling’s memory.
“That was fun to see so many kids out there,” Gerson said after the victorious weekend. “We had 67 signed up and 66 actually swam.”
Those numbers translated into a convincing team victory among the 10 teams competing.
“We had a team from Castle Rock and a team from Los Alamos, New Mexico,” Gerson said of the meet staged in the pool area at the Aspen Recreation Center (ARC).
“It was fitting that for the Ned Mechling Memorial, the only person who won all her events was Maddie Mechling,” Gerson said of Ned Mechling’s 12-year-old super swimmer daughter. “She swam nine; she won nine.”
For the record, Maddie Mechling won the 100 backstroke, the 100 freestyle, the 200 back, the 200 breast, the 200 free, the 200 individual medley, the 400 individual medley, the 50 butterfly and the 50 free.
“And she had some nice time improvements to boot,” Gerson said. “Sister Charlie (Mechling) was right there, too.”
Charlie Mechling, age 16, had six first-place finishes along with two seconds and a fourth.
“Nathan Cherry won eight of nine events,” Gerson said of the Speedos’ 12-year-old swimmer.
He won eight events and finished second in his other race.
“Here’s the big breakthrough for Nathan,” Gerson said. “He broke one of Max’s (Bryant) team records. He broke his 11-12 100 IM record. He went 1:12.66 … took seven-and-a-half seconds off his previous best time.”
Gerson said that at the Aspen meet, only the top six places scored.
“Even if a kid didn’t have points, I still consider them a contributor,” Gerson said. “To have 66 kids at a meet … you can do some really loud cheers.”
He said many of the Speedos clocked their best times ever at the two-day meet in Aspen.
“Little Gavin Bogs swept the 6-and-under events, “ Gerson said. “Four firsts and a fifth for him.”
Sister Lillie Boggs won the 10-and-under 200 medley, and she added a couple of third-place finishes.
“Kelli Callahan scored in all eight of her events,” Gerson said of the 16-year-old. “Her best was a second place in the 200 fly.”
He said Emily Driscoll had an outstanding meet for the Speedos. “She scored in seven of her eight (events). She continues to work really hard. She is definitely improving. She will be a big asset to the high school team this year.”
He said the Maia Ettlinger had strong swims in the 8-and-under girls division.
“She swam here, and she had five first places, a second and a third,” Gerson said, adding that Carter McCallister, in his first meet representing the Speedos team, scored in all seven of his events.
Sister Lillie McAllister (age 10) scored in all of her events. The family moved to Aspen from Florida.
Another Florida move-in from earlier, Kennidy Quist also had an impressive weekend, Gerson said.
“Kennidy continues to work her way back. She scored in seven of her eight events including a bunch of third places,” Gerson said.
He also cited big time drops at the meet for Riley Rushing (10).
“Micah (Sanders-Silva) had another great meet,” Gerson said. “He’s only 9 years old competing in the 10-and-under. He won the 100 back.”
The young Aspen Speedos swimmer also had six second-place finishes.
“Oliver (Semple) is continuing to improve, scoring in six events,” Gerson said. “And Connor Somers … this was his first meet for us. He’s got a low of raw talent.”
Somers won the 100 butterfly, the 50 free and the 500 free as a 14-year-old. He’s originally from California.
“His 50 free broke Max’s team record and broke the pool record,” Gerson said with a reference to Aspen Speedos alum and Southern Methodist University swimmer Max Bryant, a 2014 AHS graduate.
“Connor’s got a lot of power and a natural feel for the water,” Gerson said.
He also commended the performances of Kayla Tehrani (age 10). “Competing in the 9-10 division, she got six first places, two seconds and a third. She’s learning how to carry speed through the whole race.
“And Harry (Valentine-Wilson) just keeps getting better,” Gerson said. “Against tougher competition than two weeks ago, he scored in five of his events.”
Gerson said Samantha Terranova, who lives in Steamboat Springs but competes for the Speedos, had a solid meet in Aspen.
“She had four firsts, four seconds and a third,” Gerson said of the 17-year-old. He texts the weekly training schedule to Terranova in Steamboat. She does the workouts and races with the Speedos whenever possible.
“She had a really solid meet,” Gerson said.
Overall, the Speedos head coach said, the weekend meet was all about the team.
“Everyone contributed,” Gerson said. “For a lot of kids, this was their first meet. We had kids swim events they had not swam before.”
The Speedos piled up 760 points to 406 for Castle Rock. Montrose was third with 236.
Other Speedos who managed point performances with top-six finishes included Ava Cherry, Eli Cohen, Noah Forman, Sasha Forman, Hannah Freeman, Isabella Haneman, Delilah Hemstreet, Isabelle Long, Owen McLemon, Haver Muss-Nichols, Sophia Perry, Paige Quist, Abigail Rickard, TJ Rickard, Tristan Silfverskiold, Luka Smalls, Wyatt Somers,Penelope White and Eddie Zane
But mostly, Gerson said, he was proud that there were pink swim caps everywhere at the ARC last weekend.
“There were plenty of pink hats in pretty much every heat,” he said of the Speedos’ trademark pink swim caps.
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The Aspen Rec Center is beginning to reopen for indoor use after the coronavirus pandemic effectively put a bolt on the door in March. The ARC staff hopes to have the facility — or at least most of it — open to its members as soon as Oct. 5.