It is truly surreal to return to a state championship meet no longer a competitive swimmer, but as the coach of the same team I once swam for.
I began swimming for the Porpoises as a 7-year old and continued to represent our small town swim team before swimming for Colorado State University. Now, returning to coach the very team that helped develop my love for the sport of swimming, I have the opportunity to give back everything this sport — and this team — has given me.
Throughout the season, I hoped to inspire and encourage my athletes, to give 110 percent every day in practice, to push past their fears and their limits to discover their true potential. Along the way, there was heartbreak — swimmers who got out-touched by 100ths of a second, those who added time in a meet when I expected them to swim the fastest times of their career. However, along with the agony of competitive swimming, there is triumph.
Among the athletes who have spent hours in the pool, waking up at the crack of dawn to drag themselves down to the Rec Center and swim lap after exhausting lap, seven members qualified and competed in the state championship meet.
Owen Sutton, the youngest Porpoise state qualifier, swam six events over the three-day meet. Sutton placed 17th in the 50-yard butterfly, fifth in the 100-yard backstroke, 23rd in the 100-yard freestyle, 27th in the 50 free, 12th in the 50 back, and 23rd in the 200 free.
Blake Irons competed in the 11-12 division, placing 13th in the 100 backstroke and ninth in the 100 breaststroke. Irons also swam the 100 free, 50 free, 50 breast and 200 free.
Emily Bryant dominated her age division, placing first in the 200 IM, the 100 free, the 50 free, the 100 back, and the 200 free. She placed second in the 100 fly. Bryant also swam the 200 backstroke, winning the race by an entire pool length, but was disqualified in a controversial call.
Katie Armbrecht placed second in the 200 IM, dropping 7 seconds from her best time. She also placed second in the 100 freestyle, finishing in a time of 58.53. Armbrecht finished first in the 500- and 200-yard freestyle events and fourth in the 100 back. She also competed in the 50 free.
Erika Pitcher lived up to her reputation as an incredibly talented butterflier, placing third in the 100 fly with a time of 1:07.18, dropping 3 seconds from her season’s best time. She finished second in the 200 fly, dropping 6 seconds from her best time at Western Slopes. Pitcher also competed in the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle events.
Kelsea Anderson placed 13th in the 200 IM and 12th in the 500 free. She also competed in the 50 free, 100 back and 200 free.
Austin Miller placed 13th in the 200 IM, 14th in the 100 fly with a time of 1:04.19, and fifth in the 200 back, dropping 13 seconds from his season best. He finished 10th in the 100 free with a time of 55.92, third in the 500 free, improving his time by 9 seconds. Miller also swam the 100 breast and the 200 free.
The highlight of the entire state meet came during the relay events. On Saturday, Anderson led off the 400 medley relay with the 100 backstroke, splitting a 1:13. Armbrecht dove in next, swimming the 100 breaststroke in a 1:16, followed by Pitcher’s 100 fly in 1:07. Bryant anchored the relay, finishing her 100 free split in under a minute, just ahead of the second place team. This same state champion relay team showed up again on Sunday for the 400 free relay. Armbrecht, Anderson, Pitcher and Bryant claimed their second championship by two-tenths of a second.
With only seven swimmers attending the meet, the Porpoises competed in the “small team” division. Much to our excitement, we finished second as a team, with 352 points.
After four grueling months of training and competitions nearly every weekend, all of the hard work and dedication these athletes poured into this great sport paid off.