Davy Brown leads Aspen girls swim team to state championship meet for final time

The Aspen High School girls swim team will compete in the Class 3A state championships on Friday and Saturday in Fort Collins.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Davy Brown loves the banner that commemorates the Aspen High School girls swim team’s 2017 state championship. Then a sophomore, she was a key piece in bringing that banner home and hopes it can continue to inspire future AHS swimmers.

“It’s just a symbol of how hard we’ve worked and a symbol of how far we’ve come, because we’ve been through some rough things recently,” Brown said Thursday morning from the Aspen Recreation Center pool. “I think that just shows us we are actually capable of great things.”

Led by Brown and then-senior Kennidy Quist, who swims for Harvard, the Class 3A state championship won two years ago was a first for AHS swimming. Brown had a strong showing in the state meet that winter, winning the 100-yard backstroke and taking second in the 200-yard medley. Both Brown and Quist also were part of the two state champion relays (200 medley, 400 freestyle) alongside Hannah Freeman and Emily Driscoll.

Brown, who will swim for Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, is now the undisputed leader for the Skiers, much like Quist was two years ago. After taking a step back last year, finishing eighth as a team with no individual state champions, Brown will lead AHS one final time when the Skiers compete at the 2019 state meet this weekend at the Edora Pool Ice Center in Fort Collins. Prelims get underway Friday with finals scheduled for Saturday.

“She’s my star senior. She’s had some difficulties this year,” AHS swim coach Kathleen Callahan said of Brown, who has had her share of illness and other personal issues outside the pool. “She’s great at getting all the girls excited and the team spirit going. So I don’t know who is going to take her place next year. Those are some big shoes to fill. But I’m so proud of her, because she’s had to deal with a lot.”

Brown will compete in the 100-yard backstroke, an event she placed second in last year after winning it in 2017. She is seeded fourth, with AHS freshman Laila Khan-Farooqi seeded sixth, although Brown is certainly a frontrunner to win. She’s also in the 200-yard IM and the Skiers’ two main relays: The 200-yard medley and the 200-yard freestyle, both of which Aspen enters as the top seed.

“The only pressure I have is pressure I am putting on myself to perform well and to excel, because it’s what any athlete wants,” Brown said. “It’s good that I don’t have as much pressure on me, because that means I won’t get as much in my head and I’ll just go out and enjoy it. I would love to win. We hope to win. We’ve trained very hard. That would be really amazing if we could pull that off again.”

As sad as Callahan, the 2017 3A coach of the year, is to see Brown’s high school career coming to a close, there is tremendous excitement for the future. The Skiers are sending a large contingent of underclassmen to Fort Collins, many of whom are expected to vie for medals. Then, there is this highly-touted eighth-grade class that will step in next year.

“I’m really excited. I have two freshmen that I think are going to place really well in Laila and Kayla,” Callahan said. “They are both pretty fierce competitors. Laila is very quiet and kicked back, but she is intensely focused.”

On top of the 100 back, Khan-Farooqi will compete in the 100-yard butterfly with fellow freshman Kayla Tehrani, who is seeded fourth to Khan-Farooqi’s fifth seed. Khan-Farooqi said she is a little stronger in the backstroke, although claimed that “Davy is definitely going to beat me — there is no way” in the event.

Both Khan-Farooqi and Tehrani will join with Brown and sophomore Emily Kinney in the two top-seeded relays. Tehrani and Kinney also enter as top-six seeds in the 100-yard breaststroke.

“We are seeded first in both, so we are going to try and maintain that, maybe drop some time,” Tehrani said of the relays. “We are just going to try and stay positive throughout the entire thing and get what we can out of it.”

Others competing this weekend include freshman Ava Cherry and senior Taylor Pattillo, both qualified in the 200-yard IM; Cherry in the 500-yard freestyle; and sophomore Carolina Robinson in the 100-yard butterfly.

Also competing will be the 400-yard freestyle relay team, led by Cherry and Pattillo. The other two spots are still to be determined, but will likely go to one of a handful of upperclassmen hoping to get experience at state before graduating.

Aspen is ranked No. 4 in Class 3A in the Feb. 3 poll, behind No. 3 Kent Denver, No. 2 Pueblo County and No. 1 Evergreen, a heavy favorite. Durango is No. 5 and Glenwood Springs is No. 6.

Based off sheer numbers, AHS might be a long shot to win the state title, but the Skiers felt the same way prior to the 2017 meet before winning. Whether they bring home another banner or not this weekend, Brown finds pride in the one they already have and believes they’ll add to it after she’s gone.

“I’m very, very proud of all of them and very happy to have swam with them and gotten the pleasure to know them very well. I wish them the best of luck,” Brown said of the underclassmen. “I’m actually kind of sad that it’s all over, but I’m really proud of how far I’ve come throughout my entire high school career of swimming. I’m really excited to just go out and have fun and swim my hardest for the last time.”