Anxiety, excitement, trepidation and a touch of sadness pervades the Moffat County High School swim team as it gets ready for state competition Friday.
While some will stick together for soccer, others who have swam as a team for years before their high school careers began will soon be going their separate ways as the season closes.
After incredible performances last weekend at regionals in Durango, swimmers say there isn't much pressure on them.
"This is something I've been waiting for," said senior Nicole Vorhies. "We want to get there but I don't want it to end."
With 13 seniors graduating this year, many of whom have swam together since their summer seasons with the Craig Sea Sharks, Vorhies said the team shared some tears last week at its last regular practice.
Vorhies, who has been swimming for 13 years, will be swimming at state with the 200-medley relay team. Moffat County also is sending its 200-free style team and diver, Amanda Vaughn, to the competition, which will be held in Loveland.
"We all kind of came together through swimming," Vorhies said. "We're all a big group of best friends."
Chloe Gilchrist, also a senior who will be the "butterflyer" in the 200-medley relay team, said the regionals competition was disappointing because, "despite taking off a lot of time, we missed qualifying times by like tenths of a second."
The competition in Durango, Gilchrist and Vorhies said, was significant because many of the swimmers had been on a competitive "plateau" for some time and had seen meaningful time shaved off of their performances.
"It is going to be hard watching some of the events that we should have qualified in," Gilchrist said. "It all came together last weekend and that was cool. We crossed over the hump. I kind of wish we had one more week to qualify."
Vorhies, who said she had plateaued for about three years, came off of it last weekend as well.
"It was nice to end fast," Vorhies said.
Coach Ed Stehlin said he thought his swimmers would do well Friday.
"It is going to be good," Stehlin said. "I'm not going to make any predictions. The kids seem to be loose and ready to go. Will it be enough to get into the last dance on Saturday? I don't know."
Gilchrist said while state tournaments are usually for all the proverbial marbles, there isn't much pressure on the team.
"So this weekend we are just going down to have fun," Gilchrist said.
Even without the pressure, Gilchrist said team members are still "pretty excited about this weekend."
Sari Maneotis, a sophomore who will be going down to Loveland as an alternate, said she would be going to state "to have fun and support my team."
The swimmers said the season has been bitter sweet in that performances have improved but their high school careers that have
bound them together are coming to an end.
"I'm going to miss it a lot," Gilchrist said of her swim team. "Last weekend was way emotional and this weekend should be, too."
"It's been a good season," Vorhies said. "There has been a lot of ups and downs throughout the years but there are a lot of great memories."
Senior Jenna Waite will compete in the 200 freestyle relay in the weekend's meet.
"We should do pretty good," she said. "There's a definite possibility of making the finals."
This weekend marks the final time Waite and her fellow seniors, who have swam together since grade school, will swim together competitively.
"It's kind of sad but we're kind of happy," she said. "We're ready to be done with our senior year of school and this is another step in getting there."
The nerves are not quite as bad competing in a relay at the state meet as they would be competing individually, she said.
"It's a little nerve racking but since it's a team you have more support from your team instead of it being just you by yourself."
Senior Kallie Murphy, who will compete in the medley relay, said the relay team will be shooting for a personal record this weekend.
"Since it's our last meet we hope to finish with a P.R. (personal record)," she said. "It think we can do it. Ed said the pool should be fast in Loveland."
She agreed that the meet has sentimental value.
"Most of us won't go on to swim somewhere in college so this is our last meet," she said. "We're all just happy we made it to state. This year was the best year. We had a lot of fun even though we got upset last weekend at districts."
Senior Miranda Hillewaert will compete in the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle.
"We're all going to be sad just because it's our last meet," she said.
She had mixed emotions about her final meet.
"I'm ready for it to be done but I've been swimming since I was four so I'm glad it's about over."