Aspen swimmer Lillie Boggs wins 500 free state title, makes noise in mile

Aspen Swim Club's Lillie Boggs competes in a 2016 meet in Grand Junction.
Hannah Freeman/courtesy photo |

If a swimmer is on a list that includes five-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin, that’s a good thing. And as of last weekend, Aspen seventh grader Lillie Boggs is on such a list.

The Aspen Swim Club athlete was one of three Speedos to compete in the Colorado Swimming Short Course Age Group Championships, the state’s premier 14-and-under competition. It was held Friday to Sunday at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton.

“It would be hard to avoid using superlatives to describe Lillie Boggs’ meet,” Aspen coach Gordon Gerson said. “I get fearful of overhyping a 12-year-old. Every meet seems like something new and awesome happens when it comes to championship time of the year.”

The highlight of Boggs’ weekend came when she won the 12-and-under 500 freestyle, which according to Gerson is the first win for an Aspen swimmer at the state meet in seven years, and only the second win in club history. Her time of 5 minutes, 20.70 seconds broke a team record previously held by Maddie Mechling, who now lives in Texas.

Boggs also took top-six finishes in the 200 IM (4th, new team record), 100 breaststroke (4th), 200 freestyle (5th) and 50 breast (6th).

“Really the superlative day was the last day. She came in second in the 400 IM in 4:49.00, which was a sectionals bonus cut,” Gerson said. “We’ve never had a 12-year-old swim in sectionals before. Maddie swam it as a 13-year-old and everyone else was at least 14 when they swam in it.”

Now, back to the Missy Franklin thing. In the mile, there was hope Boggs could break the 18:22 barrier and make the sectional cut in the 14-and-under event. Not only did she do so, she made quite the statement in doing it.

Her time of 18:03.82 was good for sixth in the race over the weekend, but all five swimmers in front of her were at least 14. Comparing that time to 12-and-under swimmers, it certainly stands out.

In the recorded history of 12-and-under swimmers in the state of Colorado, only four other females have recorded a faster time than Boggs. Fourth on that list is Franklin, who had a time of 17:59.48 in the mile before she turned 13. Second and third on that list are sisters Amelie and Karla Lessing, the daughters of famed triathlete Simon Lessing, who lives in Boulder. Standout Jessica Rodriquez, who won gold in the 2007 Pan American Games, holds the 12-and-under state record with a time of 17:29.27 in the mile.

What separates Boggs’ time is that she did it at elevation. Her altitude-adjusted time would be 17:40.82, which would put her in the top three.

For the current season, her time of 18:03.82 ranks eighth in the country for 12-and-under swimmers and is first in the state.

“I don’t want to overhype it, but this is kind of really impressive,” Gerson said.

Also competing for Aspen over the weekend was Lillie’s younger brother Gavin, who recorded numerous best times and has made age group zone cuts in a few events and is on the verge of making Team Colorado, an invite-only team. Kayla Tehrani was the third Aspen swimmer, whose highlight came when she made the championship final of the 200 butterfly and took ninth.

The three swimmers combined to finish 18th as a team.

“Given there are 75 or so teams in the state and they are all eligible to come to that, and most of them are bigger than us, it’s pretty cool,” Gerson said.

Next up for Aspen is the CSI Silver States 14-and-under meet this weekend in Denver, where the Speedos are sending seven swimmers. Beyond that is the Super Sectional Speedo Championship from March 22-25 in Austin, Texas, one of the biggest meets of the season for the higher-end swimmers. The Aspen Swim Club currently has six swimmers qualified to compete.

“If the high school state and age group are any indicator, these next two meets ought to go real well, too,” Gerson said.