Grand Junction next stop for Sea Sharks

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The number of Sea Sharks the Craig team took to the Sopris Invitational in Carbondale was a little lower than normal and as a result, the team only placed sixth at the meet.

Coaches Hollie Haskins and Cammie Hillewaert knew this wasn't one of the year's major meets and the low turnout meant some of the younger swimmers would get their chance at swimming some different races.

"We only had 20 kids travel to the Invitational, which is about half of what we usually have, and most only stayed for one day of the meet," Cammie Hillewaert said. "But it worked out since we were able to get some of the kids into some more difficult races."

The Sea Sharks' coaches upped the ante on their swimmers Friday and Saturday, placing some of them in races which were more difficult technically or were a longer distance.

Many of the younger Sea Shark members were introduced to their first competitive experience using more technical strokes such as the butterfly, or a combination of strokes in the individual medley. A number of swimmers saw their distances increase dramatically, with a few seeing their yardage increased from 200 to 800 yards.

Overall, the coaches were impressed with the swimmers 'ability to answer the call of adversity.

"The kids that were moved into different races did have a little difficulty, but they're catching on," Hillewaert said. "Each meet and each week they're improving, and hopefully it keep on that way through the rest of the season."

If the Sopris Invitational wasn't a major meet for the Sea Sharks, the Orchard Mesa Invitational in Grand Junction will be.

Touted by the coaches as one of the larger meets the swimmers will attend this season, the Sea Sharks should see a substantial swell in the number of swimmers who show up.

"Low numbers is what really hurt us at Sopris. We usually race three relay teams for each age group, but at Sopris we had only enough to field two relay teams for the whole meet," Haskins said. "Grand Junction should be the exact opposite, and we should have no problem filling the races."

The Orchard Mesa Invitational is such a large meet that all of the swimmers under the age of eight will race on Friday, so that Saturday and Sunday are dedicated to the older swimmers.

Though the Sea Sharks should find themselves with enough swimmers to be competitive, and possibly even a top team finish, the personal-best philosophy of the coaches and racers will still be what's important.

"Though we finished a little lower than we usually would at Sopris, the kids weren't too upset," Haskins said. "They know in this program it's all about individual performances, and that they'll get out of it what they put in."

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