STEAMBOAT SPRINGS -- It was 33 degrees and snowing Saturday morning.
That's certainly not the ideal weather report for a summer swim meet, but the Craig Sea Sharks and five other teams endured the snow and rain all day during the second swim meet of the summer.
"It just sh-sh-shows you that s-s-s-swimmers aren't wuss-ss-ss-ies," 11-year-old Kirstie McPherson said between shivers. "We had a meet where it hailed last year, but it wasn't this cold."
Moffat County junior-to-be Vanessa Murray was fairly sure she didn't want to swim when she arrived at the pool.
"I thought, 'I'm not getting in if it's snowing,'" she said. "At least they let us in the hot pool."
Across from the lap pool are several hot tubs, which are normally off limits for swimmers at the meet. The largest tub, which is the size of a small pool, was packed to the brim with swim-capped clientele.
"This is the coldest meet I've been to in my life," said Chris Compton, an assistant coach and swimmer for the Sea Sharks. "It was dangerously cold this morning."
The older age groups swam in the morning. Compton said they had to scrape ice off the starting blocks before the first race, but the water was the swimmers' refuge in the morning. "(The water) felt good," Compton said. "It was just the getting out part, brrrrrrrr."
Not all was chilly for Compton. He was the high-point swimmer in the boys senior division. The all-state swimmer in the backstroke won the 100-meter individual medley, 50 backstroke and the 50 freestyle. He finished second in the 50 butterfly.
Saturday marked 8-year-old Laurel Tegtman's first swim meet. She was more focused on how she finished than on the cold. "I won again," she told her mom after jumping out of the pool in the 25 butterfly.
She was one of two 8-year-olds to compete for Craig.
"I had a couple go home after they watched their siblings in the morning session," coach Marin Campbell said.
Tegtman knew what her first priority should be in a cold meet like Saturday. "I have to keep moving to stay warm," she said. "(The cold) isn't fun, but I really like to race."
Most of the Sea Sharks were at least prepared for the rainy meet because they had been practicing in the rain all week.
"I was happy with our turnout this week," Campbell said. "The water was warm, they just had to watch the coaches suffer on the deck."
On Saturday the coaches, parents and meet officials did their best to make sure the swimmers weren't suffering.
"Just think how much nicer the rest of the meets will be," the meet announcer said in an attempt to shed some sun on a cloudy day.
Steamboat parents were running loads of towels through the dryers all day. The swimmers embraced the warm towels like they were Christmas presents.
"For the little ones you need to be as encouraging as you can because they could just remember the negatives," Campbell said. "With the older ones, it becomes more of a challenge. If they can make it through this they can make it through anything."
Everybody made it through just in time to see the sun come out after the last race of the meet. The sun was not spoken of kindly as the tents came down.
"When there are things that make a meet harder than it should be it's a challenge," Campbell said. "Not to sound trite, but days like this truly make you a tougher person."
All of those tougher little people have the rest of their lives to build from the experience.
And when they're wrapping their own children in towels after a cold meet they can give their Paul Bunyanesque story.
"Back when I was your age we had a meet in Steamboat Springs where we broke the ice on the top of the pool before the meet..."
Top 10 Craig Sea Shark results will appear in the Tuesday Craig Daily Press.
David Pressgrove can be contacted at 970-824-7031 ext. 211 or firstname.lastname@example.org