Bryant and Aspen Speedos shine at state meet

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The Aspen swim team sent its largest contingent to date to last weekend’s long-course state championships in Grand Junction. The young Speedos returned with some valuable experience and plenty of encouraging results.

Of their 34 combined swims, the Speedos finished higher than they were originally seeded 21 times, head coach Gordon Gerson said Tuesday afternoon. Leading the way was Max Bryant, who made three championships finals and finished in the top 14 in all seven events he entered.

“There was some tough competition. There are some really talented swimmers in the state right now,” Gerson said. “The kids swam well. Several performances were better than expected …”

Bryant’s impressive showing began Friday morning, when he finished eighth in the 400-meter individual medley prelims to nab the last spot in the night’s championship final. (The top eight swimmers in prelims qualified for the championship final, while the next eight took part in the B final.) The 14-year-old took advantage, dropping nine seconds off his time to vault into fifth place.

Bryant also finished 14th in the 100 breaststroke and 10th in the 100 butterfly Friday, recording personal bests in each. His weekend included seventh-place finishes in the 200 butterfly and 200 breaststroke, a 12th in the 100 backstroke and a 13th in the 200 backstroke.

Those efforts did not go unnoticed.

“Coaches from the Front Range and the Western Slope were impressed by his performances and pointed that out to me toward the end of the meet,” Gerson said. “Max definitely had a great meet.”

So, too, did fellow 14-year-old Kelcie Gerson, who swam in one championship final, finishing eighth in the 100 backstroke.

“She went out way too fast and just kind of cooked herself,” Gordon Gerson said. “When you give too much too early, it really is a struggle coming home.”

Kelcie Gerson also scored points in three other races. She finished 11th in the 100 backstroke and 800 freestyle, then was 15th in the 200 butterfly, an event in which she came in seeded 31st. The latter came as a surprise to her father.

“[During one meet at the end of April], she was swimming the 200 and it literally looked like she was drowning – I thought the lifeguard would have to go in after her,” Gordon Gerson joked. “I have to give props to her.”

Competing in her first state meet, Kelli Callahan scored in two events. She finished 13th in the 50 breaststroke and 14th in the 50 freestyle.

“She qualified 11th in the 50 freestyle, then came back and swam faster [during the evening]. Unfortunately, so did everybody else,” coach Gerson said. “To score points in her first state meet ever is quite an accomplishment.”

Bridger Gile nearly accomplished that feat, logging a 19th-place finish in the 50 backstroke. Of his six events, Gile posted personal bests in “four or five,” Gerson said.

“The kids left hungry,” the coach added. “They’re already looking forward to next season.”