The day before the Class 4A swim meet in Loveland, the Moffat County High School team received its traditional big-meet delivery. New, faster swim suits.
"We order suits that are designed to be faster and we get them a size smaller for state," coach Ed Stehlin said. "If they aren't faster, it is, at least, a mental thing of having a new suit."
Last week seniors, Cara Conci and Danyel Harman wore their state suits from last year and helped two relay teams qualify for state.
Now state qualifications aren't enough for the freshly garbed swimmers. The 400-meter freestyle and 200 medley relay teams have set goals to get their names etched in stone, or at least plastic on the Moffat County record board as the fastest ever in Bulldog history.
"Breaking school records and having fun is definitely our focus at state," said Conci, who will compete in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. "The 400 has the best chance for me."
The 400 team of junior Sari Maneotis, Conci, senior Katie Stewart and freshman Vanessa Murray are less than two seconds from a school record in the event.
The 400 team will enjoy some extra rest for its event because of the extra rounds in state before the meet's last event.
Coach Ed Stehlin wasn't sure the team would be fast enough to make the finals for the event, but did think the record is obtainable.
"Less than two seconds is easy to make up for in a 400 relay," he said. "They'll be a bit more rested and it will be good time to break it."
The medley relay will have a secret weapon by the name of Heather Whiting. The junior from Steamboat Springs will be swimming the breaststroke for the Bulldogs after sitting out competition most of the season. Even after shoulder surgery, Whiting's times in the breaststroke are five to six seconds faster than the Bulldogs have had all year.
"The medley relay team is definitely a sleeper," Stehlin said. "If it swims well it could make the finals."
Whiting, Harman, Stewart and sophomore Katie Gainor will be going after the record books in the event.
"We have eight seconds to improve, which seems like a lot," Gainor said. "But at state I think it can happen."
Stewart, a senior from Meeker, will be the busiest Bulldog in Loveland with four events on the schedule. Not bad considering she has only swum competitively in high school for a season and a half.
"She came out last year after Christmas because she didn't like basketball anymore," Stehlin said. "She has always competed in the summer so she's not completely new to swimming and she has been important for us this year."
Stewart started last year as primarily a freestyle racer. She will swim the freestyle in both of the free relays. She will also swim the backstroke in the medley relay and she snuck into the individual backstroke at state with a qualifying time in the finals at the Western Slope Championships last weekend.
Stewart won't be the only individual competing in the meet as senior diver Amanda Vaughn will make her second appearance at swimming's big show. After getting a zero on the last dive at the WSCs, Stehlin said he hopes Vaughn will forget about judges and will be focused on her dives.
"Nerves play a big part in Amanda's diving," he said. "I think if she goes out there confident she wants to prove herself she can make it into the final round."
While the Bulldogs peaked for the WSC Stehlin didn't think his swimmers would lose to much for state.
"I think a good meet for us would be to swim equal or faster than last week," he said. "It should be fun."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org