In a swim meet that had an Olympian as the special guest and saw Craig swimmers continue to improve their times, coach Caitlin Conci said she was exceptionally proud of everyone.
“Our swimmers were dropping time like crazy,” she said. “This was a very good meet overall for all those that competed.”
Sunday marked the last day of the Craig Sea Sharks ABC Meet that began Friday at Craig Swimming Complex.
Olympian Kristy Kowal, who swam for the United States in the 2000 Olympics, said she had never seen a swim meet quite like the Craig event.
“Everyone here is so friendly and the kids are very enthusiastic to get in the water,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see kids get that excited to go swim.”
Kowal said it had been a long time since she had been to a summer swim meet, but the energy level in Craig was “so high.”
“Not only are the kids into the meet, but so are the coaches and the parents,” she said. “Everyone from all different areas just help each other.”
When Kowal had a chance to talk to the swimmers, she told them the sport is all about having fun.
Sea Sharks swimmer John Kirk, an incoming Moffat County High School junior, completely agreed.
“Coming out to the summer meets helps me a little with my high school swimming,” Kirk said. “But, I mostly come out here to have fun.”
Kirk finished second in the 400-meter IM, behind teammate Matt Hulstine, and first in the 200-meter freestyle.
Hulstine, who also finished first in the 100-meter breaststroke and 200-meter butterfly, said being part of the Sea Sharks would help him compete more in high school.
“Coach (Caitlin) competes in the butterfly and has helped me with that race,” he said. “She has helped me smooth out my stroke to get faster times.”
Katelyn Peroulis, 13, swam in four events and was able to finish sixth in the 100-meter freestyle and fourth in the 200-meter freestyle.
After practicing more on freestyle, Peroulis said she has been able to improve dramatically.
“I took a lot of time off both of my freestyle events,” she said. “I was really able to push myself at the end and that is where I saw the practice pay off the most.”
Conci said the meet in Craig was one of the biggest of the year.
“For some kids, this is the only meet they get to participate in,” she said. “It is great to see this level of competition at such young ages.”
Craig coaches team up with Olympian
The chance to swim with an Olympian is not one that comes around often, Conci said, and she was glad she could be a part of it.
“Not everyone can say they swam with an Olympian,” Conci said. “It was a great chance for everyone to see Kristy swim.”
Caitlin, along with her twin sister, Kelsey Conci, and fellow Sea Sharks coach Katherine Dodd, joined forces with Kowal to swim a relay at Saturday’s ABC swimming meet.
The four-swimmer team took on a team made up of coaches from Aspen, Delta, Glenwood Springs and Battlement Mesa. The races were a friendly competition only.
“We did a medley relay because all four of us were strong at different strokes,” Caitlin said. “The parents organized the relay event very well.”
Kowal swam the breaststroke leg and Kelsey said it was something special.
“I love watching really good swimmers,” she said. “It was a lot of fun to just be part of that.”
Caitlin, Kelsey and Katherine are all part of swim teams at their respective colleges.
Caitlin swims at the University of North Dakota, Kelsey swims at the University of Wyoming and Katherine swims at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia.