Brown wins two state titles as AHS swimming finishes fourth at state
The Aspen High School girls swim team was expected to win both of its main relays and Friday’s preliminaries went as planned. Seeded first in both the 200-yard medley and 200-yard free relays ahead of the Class 3A state championships, the Skiers won both of those prelims and were sitting pretty entering Saturday’s finals at the Edora Pool Ice Center in Fort Collins.
That’s when things went astray. In the first event of the day Saturday, AHS settled for third place in the 200 medley relay, more than three seconds behind Pueblo County’s winning foursome.
“The first relay, we were all really nervous and it came out in the swim,” said AHS senior Davy Brown. “None of us were really confident behind the blocks. We were kind of scared. It really showed. Then we changed our mindset. We had some talks with the coaches and we changed the way we were thinking about it and we really owned it. It was really incredible how we overcame that weird nervousness.”
That same group — comprised of Brown, sophomore Emily Kinney, and freshmen Kayla Tehrani and Laila Khan-Farooqi — answered back in a big way later in the meet. In a close race, they held off Pueblo County to win the 200-yard freestyle state championship with a time of 1 minute, 40.46 seconds, setting a 3A state record.
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“I’m kind of speechless right now because that was such a big thing,” Brown said. “I was honored to swim with those girls and be able to be a part of that amazing race. It was honestly perfect.”
Led by Brown, the AHS swimmers finished fourth as a team in the 3A championship, a significant improvement over an eighth-place finish in 2018. The Skiers won the inaugural 3A state title in 2017. Evergreen took the team crown on Saturday.
Brown, who will swim for Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, was the team’s shining star, winning two additional state titles. First, there was the 200-yard IM, which she won by nearly two seconds over Evergreen’s Maggie McDonald.
“Davy has been super sick, but as a sport psychologist, I would not allow her to say she was sick,” said AHS swim coach Kathleen Callahan, who is in fact a sport psychologist in Aspen and has worked with local athletes such as professional skier Alex Ferreira. “I didn’t want her to psyche herself out, because what I believe is whatever you tell your brain — it listens and it’s going to prove you right. We worked really hard on positive attitudes.”
Brown also won the 100-yard backstroke on Saturday, beating Berthoud’s Jamie Dellwardt to the finish. She won the same event as a sophomore before taking second last winter.
“I’ve been working toward that back title all year. That’s what I wanted. That’s what I was training for,” Brown said. “It’s a really emotional time just because I’ve worked so hard for this and I’ve overcome a lot of mental illness and things like that. It’s just incredible to have done that.”
Aspen had a few others in Saturday finals as well. Tehrani finished fourth and Khan-Farooqi sixth in the 100-yard butterfly, two of four freshmen competing in the ‘A’ final. Tehrani also finished fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke, with Kinney coming in a spot behind her. Khan-Farooqi was seventh in the 100 back, won by Brown, and Kinney was ninth in the 200 IM, again won by Brown.
AHS freshman Ava Cherry finished 17th in the 500-yard freestyle.
Brown pointed out the team’s overwhelming positivity as a reason for their success on Saturday.
“That has such a big impact on the way you swim and I’ve just come to realize that, and I’m glad I finally did,” she said. “We were all smiling all the time and pumping each other up and bonding. It’s kind of impressive.”
With Brown exiting, the AHS swim team will be in the hands of predominantly underclassmen next year. There is a lot of talk about next year’s incoming freshmen class, and the team already has its eyes set on that next state championship banner.
“We are pretty excited,” Callahan said. “I’m going to have a powerhouse team of underclassmen going forward.”
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