Aspen swimmers come up big in Junction meet
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Aspen’s swim team was undermanned but hardly overmatched at this past weekend’s meet in Grand Junction.
Despite facing teams with two and three times as many competitors, the Speedos were fixtures in the top 10 during three days of competition at Mesa State’s new 50-meter pool, which was hosting its first long-course meet. Aspen logged six victories, had nearly every swimmer record a personal best and wound up fifth among 23 teams from five states.
“It was a fun meet to coach at,” head coach Gordon Gerson said Tuesday. “If the kids don’t do well and don’t get their best times after working hard in practice, helping them see through that is challenging – especially with 9-year-olds. At this meet … all I had to do was give high fives.”
Here are some of the weekend’s highlights:
• Kelcie Gerson had a busy three days in the pool, competing in 10 events. The 14-year-old finished in the top four in nine of them, and picked up wins in the 200-meter backstroke (she bested the field by 14 seconds), the 400 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. In the latter, she finished in 1 minute, 11.74 seconds – an impressive feat considering that the girls’ 15-and-over race winner, 19-year-old Sarah Boylen of the University of Utah, posted a time of 1:11.68.
Gerson teamed with fellow 14-year-olds Claire Collier and Leigh Sandbach plus 12-year-old Kelli Callahan to finish fourth in the 400 relay, posting a state-qualifying time of 5:24:92. The race’s winning team was comprised of swimmers who were 15, 16 and 18 years old.
• Max Bryant bested the field in the 200 breaststroke and 400 individual medley and wound up second and third, respectively, in the 200 and 100 butterfly. The 14-year-old, one of three Speedos (Gerson, Kelli Callahan) qualify for finals every time he took the pool, finished fourth or better in all six events he swam.
• Callahan bested her nearest competitor by .33 seconds to win the 50 breaststroke, and also logged second-place finishes in the 100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle. She was also third in the 50 butterfly and 50 freestyle, and she established four new state-qualifying times.
• Despite being hampered by a shoulder injury, Collier finished second in the 100 butterfly and third in the 100 backstroke.
• Eight-year-old Sam Richie finished sixth in the 100 breaststroke in a field largely comprised of 10-year-olds – including teammates Ty Yocum, who wound up second. Richie, the lone 8-year-old in the top 13, posted a time of 1:58.32, which was good enough for him to qualify for the state meet.
He is believed to be the youngest Aspen swimmer to accomplish the feat, coach Gerson said.
• Yocum and Bridger Gile combined for 15 top 10s and six new state-qualifying times. The 10-year-olds also teamed with Richie and Hunter Hill to take third in the 200 medley relay.
• Lelia Arthur’s strong weekend included a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke, a fourth in the 50 backstroke and a fifth in both the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly. Teammate Davy Brown wound up third in the 100 breaststroke and fifth in the 50 breaststroke.
The duo also joined forces with Kim Sandbach and Katie Yocum to take third in the 200 medley and fourth in the 200 freestyle relays.
“There some excellent, across-the-board efforts,” Gordon Gerson said. “The kids have worked so hard, and it is paying off.”
Aspen returns to the pool Saturday and Sunday, when they host 13 teams for a meet at the ARC.
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Vail and Beaver Creek resorts Senior Communications Manager John Plack said the company agrees with the state’s assessment that the ski industry must be out-front in its approach to ensure a safe and successful season in Colorado.