With two meets behind her team this season, Moffat County High School girls swimming coach Meghan Francone feels confident that her team’s most recent times will translate to good results as the season progresses.
“I think we’re closer to state earlier in the season this year than we have been in any other,” Francone said.
The MCHS swimmers banded together in a weekend meet, the League Relays at Mesa State College. Placing fifth out of 11 teams, the Bulldogs finished strong, not only shaving seconds off their times but also coming closer and closer to state qualifying times.
“We could definitely feel the times dropping for the more experienced girls,” assistant coach Anita Reynolds said.
The team performed strongest in the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relays, with Eryn Leonard and Mary Penner joining Steamboat Springs swimmers Amy Brodie and Luci Franklin in each. The foursome came within two seconds of the state qualifying time with their 2 minutes and 6.91 seconds in the medley. They were also less than a second away in the freestyle, finishing at one minute and 51.41 seconds.
“They were so close,” Francone said. “This was the first meet of the season for some of the girls.”
Leonard was unable to attend the team’s first meet, the Montrose Invitational, on Dec. 3 and 4.
Hannah Kirk also was unable to attend the Montrose meet.
The MCHS sophomore said missing League Relays would have been less bearable because of the format, consisting of team events.
“I really need to work on my individual times, but being on the team really helps you get pumped up,” she said.
Among Kirk’s events were the 100-yard medley, the 400-yard freestyle and the 200-yard butterfly/freestyle. She also swam the final 200 yards of the 500-yard freestyle crescendo.
Kirk wrote her day’s schedule on her thigh, a time-saver she started last season and plans to continue throughout the year.
“I have to rub it with alcohol and it doesn’t always fade, but it usually does by the next meet,” she said.
Kirk and her teammates will have a considerable interval before their next meet, which is at home. The Moffat County Invitational, scheduled earlier in the season for Saturday, has been moved to Jan. 7, after the team returns from holiday break.
Reynolds said though the MCHS pool will not be open for most of the break, the girls will practice in facilities in Meeker and Steamboat Springs. However, she and Francone will not be able to oversee all practices.
“We’re going to have them on an honor system,” she said.
Francone said she’s looking forward to the home meet. Unlike most venues in the region, the MCHS pool is measured in meters and events will not be measured in yards.
Francone said the difference could provide an advantage for the team, especially if the girls keep up their work.
“It’d be pretty nice to win in our home pool,” Francone said. “It’ll be pretty exciting to watch.”