Large contingent of Glenwood swimmers look to make splash at 3A state finale
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Glenwood Springs High School girls swimming coach Steve Vanderhoof can measure the success of this year’s contingent of Demons who are headed to state by bus size.
“We usually take the mini bus to Denver, and we’re only able to do that this year because some of the girls will be going over with their parents,” Vanderhoof said.
With a team of 14 swimmers who’ve qualified in their individual events and two relay alternates, plus coaches, making the trip to the Class 3A state championships at the Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center in Thornton, the mini bus would be just over capacity.
Logistical fact aside, that does speak to the Demons’ team depth this season, which earned Glenwood Springs a second straight Southwestern Conference championship in Grand Junction last weekend — outscoring the closest competition by more than 145 points.
How that depth plays out against state-level team competition remains to be seen, but numbers certainly help.
Glenwood Springs took third at state in the pandemic-altered 2021 season, and is ranked sixth as a team coming into this year’s competition with qualifiers in every event except diving.
There’s a strong chance the Demons could find gold in at least one individual event, as sophomore Amelie Ogilby is ranked first in the 500 freestyle and third in the 200 free.
“What you really need to win state is probably three really fast girls who can give you six races and place in the top 10,” Vanderhoof said.
The Demons will also be looking to make the podium in the three relay events, which is the other key element when it comes to team points.
Glenwood Springs comes into the state meet ranked fourth in the 400 freestyle relay, sixth in the 200 medley and ninth in the 200 freestyle relay.
But those qualifying times were achieved this season with standout junior swimmer Bennett Jones, who formerly swam for Aspen, taking the tag in the relays.
Jones is ineligible for the state meet due to Colorado High School Activities Association school transfer rules.
“So, we’re probably one good swimmer away from being a state champion,” Vanderhoof said. “But, with the swimmers we do have I think we’ll do just fine.”
The Demons’ third-place team finish last season was also aided by the strong diving contingent of Abby Scruton and Libby Claassen, who both graduated. Glenwood does not have any divers this year.
Ogilby said that having Jones on the team this year has only helped her become better.
“She’s been my training partner all season, and it’s just such a fun environment with this group of girls,” Ogilby said during a quick break in the team’s Monday practice at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. “Last weekend was really exciting to see everyone do so well, and it will be nice to have my teammates there (at state) to push me.”
Ogilby has a goal to eventually break 5 minutes in the 500 free, and figures she’ll need to break at least 5:08 to win gold at state this year. She took third last year as a freshman with a time of 5:09.47.
Other top swimmers for the Demons at state include seniors Amy Madsen (ranked seventh in the 500 freestyle and eighth in the 100 free) and Ellie MacPherson (11th in the 500 free and 19th in the 200 IM).
Sophomore Adelyn Newton enters the state meet ranked 10th in the 100 breaststroke.
Madsen and MacPherson will be looking to close out their prep swimming careers with strong showings, as well. They said they’ve both enjoyed helping to bring the younger swimmers along this season.
“This has got to be my favorite year of all, and a lot of that is because some of my best friends who are younger came up and finally joined me in high school,” Madsen said.
“Swimming is not a super popular sport in this valley, so I love helping other young athletes find this sport, because it is a lot of fun,” she added. “It’s very much an individual sport, but we support each other so much and it’s so encouraging when so many of us do well.”
Added MacPherson, “The team dynamic this year has been great, and especially last week we were all collectively feeding off of all that good energy.”
With nine seniors on the team, including four who qualified for state — joining Madsen and MacPherson are Emma Price in the 200 IM and Ella Lindenberg in the 100 breaststroke — they’re all looking for the perfect send-off.
“I’ve known these girls since elementary school,” MacPherson said. “It’s our last meet, so we’ve got nothing to lose.”
Those seniors in particular makes this group of Demon swimmers special, Vanderhoof said.
“I taught Amy and Ella to swim when they were like 13, and all of these seniors have been consistent for four years,” he said.
Defending 3A state champion Evergreen comes into this year’s competition again ranked as the top team, followed by Discovery Canyon, St. Mary’s Academy, Holy Family, Liberty Common, Glenwood Springs, Pueblo County, Aspen, Salida and Conifer to round out the top 10.
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