Sea Sharks split squads for fun and competition

The reason that the Craig Sea Sharks swim team is called a "summer club" and not a "year-round-swim-you-into-surrender-boot-camp" is because fun is just as important an ingredient to the team's success as winning.

Last weekend, the team split its squad for competition and for fun.

"I only had the older girls go to the Dolphin (Invitational) because it is so competitive," coach Marin Campbell said. "There were younger swimmers who could have competed there, but I wanted them to be with the team because it would be more fun."

The Dolphin Invitational is an annual meet in Grand Junction. It's not that the four Craig girls who went -- Caitlin and Kelsey Conci, Katie Gainor and Ashleigh McDonald -- didn't have fun, it's that their fun was combined with swimming in the most competitive meet the Western Slope has to offer in the summer.

"There were Front Range teams and teams from out-of-state there," Campbell said. "It's a different kind of meet because it's not just the Western Slope."

All four Sea Sharks at the meet made it into the finals of the meet. Kelsey Conci qualified for the Junior Olympics in the 50-meter freestyle, with a third-place finish in the event. She also swam in the finals of the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke.

Caitlin Conci improved her personal best in the 100 backstroke to one second from the Junior Olympics qualifying time. She also made the finals in the 200 backstroke and 50 freestyle.

Gainor was a finalist in the 100 breaststroke and 50 freestyle. McDonald joined her teammates in the 100 breaststroke. The four also took fourth place in the 400 medley.

"We've been focusing so much on stroke technique the high school girls' shouldn't be focused on time but (the times) are still," Campbell said. "The focus is more on helping them take that technique into the high school season."

While some of the older Sea Sharks were in Grand Junction, the rest of the team swam in Meeker.

The ability of the Sharks to have a split quad is because of the Shark's assistant coaches, Sari Maneotis and Chris Compton.

"Our younger swimmers are swimming beyond my expectations," Maneotis said. "It was a pleasant surprise to have a swimmer qualify for the eight-and-under festival."

Laurel Tegtman qualified for the 8-and-younger Festival meet with her performance in the 25-meter backstroke.

Bailey Kurz was second in high point standings for her age group at Meeker.

Other highlights that Man--eotis noted were: Tanner Sny--der, first in the 25 freestyle; Jesse Kurz, third in the 25 freestyle; the 8-and-younger, 100-medley relay team of Maddie Duzik, Bailey Kurz, Rebeka Bird and Tegtman was second, and the same girls were fourth in the 100-freestyle relay; Tucker Trujillo was first in the 50 and 100 butterfly; Sara Kurz was third in the 100 freestyle and the mile swim; the 13-14 girls 200-medley relay team of Sara Kurz, Katherine Dodd, Tasha Romney and Megan Trujillo was second; Trujillo was second in the 100 backstroke; Chandra Griffin was third in the 50 back; Tasha Romney was second in the 200 backstroke; and Mitch Romney was second in the 100 breaststroke.

Maneotis and Compton lead by example at the meet. Maneotis won the 200 and 400 freestyles and Compton was first in the 100 and 200 backstrokes.

The team is at Delta this weekend and Aspen next weekend before coming home for the final regular-season meet in Craig.

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