Aspen swimmer Bryant wins state crown |

Aspen swimmer Bryant wins state crown

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Joey Fetzko/Special to The Aspen TimesAspen's Max Bryant charges to a second-place finish in the 200 butterfly at last weekend's state championships in Fort Collins.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Not long ago, the Aspen Speedos struggled to qualify for or score points at the state meet. After this past weekend in Fort Collins, they have a champion of their own.

After this past weekend in Fort Collins, they have a champion of their own.

Max Bryant held off a late charge from the Colorado Athletic Club’s Christopher Dawson in Saturday’s 400 individual medley, powering to the wall to secure a victory – and the club’s first state title ever.

The effort highlighted a banner weekend for the 14-year-old. He finished second twice and in the top 10 in all seven of his events. It helped propel Aspen to a 21st-place finish.

“He made this his goal at the beginning of the season,” Speedos head coach Gordon Gerson said Tuesday. “It took every drop of his skill and energy to make it come true.

“The 400 IM is a tough race. Not only do you have to have skill and endurance, you have to be really savvy with your pacing. Max has always been good at racing his race at the start, then racing the other swimmer at the finish.”

Bryant, seeded second, settled into a comfortable pace in the butterfly, allowing Dawson to take the lead. He made up some ground on the backstroke, then made his move in the breaststroke.

He surged into first place. Then, it was time to hang on.

“Chris is faster in every distance in the freestyle,” Gerson admitted, “but Max swam the 100 free of his life.”

It was just enough. Bryant finished in

4 minutes, 21.51 seconds – .17 seconds ahead of Dawson.

“Honestly, I didn’t even look at his reaction. I was busy hooting and hollering,” Gerson joked. “It was very exciting.”

Bryant’s weekend included silver-medal performances in the 200 butterfly and 200 breaststroke and a fourth-place finish in the 200 IM. He also took seventh in the 500 freestyle and ninth in both the 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke.

In the process, he registered the third-highest point total among 13- to 14-year-old boys – and highest ever recorded by an Aspen swimmer at the state championships.

Bryant also recorded his first sectional cut. He will join fellow 14-year-old Kelcie Gerson at a meet in Milwaukee, Wisc., later this week.

“We set some big goals for him at the beginning of the season,” coach Gerson said. “He has made them all.”

Kelcie Gerson’s state meet was highlighted by a third-place result in the 200 backstroke. (Had she been competing in college, the effort would’ve been good enough to qualify her for the Division II national championships.)

“[It was a solid effort] considering the top two girls in Colorado are going to be swimming in the finals at the Olympic Trials next summer,” Gordon Gerson said. “That’s a large order of fries right there.”

Kelcie Gerson also finished fifth in the 400 IM, sixth in the 100 backstroke, seventh in the 200 butterfly, 12th in the 500 freestyle and 15th in the 200 IM.

Her state point total was the third-highest in team history.

In other action this past weekend, Davy Brown finished 17th in the 200 IM in her first state appearance. (The top 20 in each discipline score points.)

“Any kid making states is great, but scoring in your first event at state is really phenomenal,” coach Gerson said. “Hopefully, this will be a nice stepping stone to bigger and better things to come.”