Matt Hulstine, an incoming Moffat County High School junior, kneels Monday next to the Craig Swimming Complex lap pool. Hulstine competed in the 2011 Western Zone Age Group Championships on Aug. 9 to 13 at Clovis North High School in Fresno, Calif., as part of the Colorado swim team, taking first in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Matt Hulstine, an incoming Moffat County High School junior, kneels Monday next to the Craig Swimming Complex lap pool. Hulstine competed in the 2011 Western Zone Age Group Championships on Aug. 9 to 13 at Clovis North High School in Fresno, Calif., as part of the Colorado swim team, taking first in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke.

Hulstine brings home 2 1st-place finishes from California swim meet

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Matt Hulstine’s results from the 2011 Western Zone Age Group Championships on Aug. 9 to 13 at Clovis North High School in Fresno, Calif.:

(Event — time — place)

• 100-meter breaststroke — 1:07.25 — 1

• 200-meter breaststroke — 2:29.79 — 1

• 200-meter medley relay — 2:00.25 — 5*

• 400-meter medley relay — 4:26.84 — 5*

*As part of a four-man team

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“In long course pools, you have less turns and you just need more endurance. Because you don’t have the walls to turn off of as frequently, you have to have better technique as well so you can go faster and not rely on the wall. I competed in a lot of long course pools this summer, so I think I had enough experience to have my technique down.”

— Matt Hulstine, an incoming Moffat County High School junior, on swimming in a 50-meter long course pool compared to a 25-meter short course pool

Any time Matt Hulstine gets in a lane pool, he remembers the motto of his Wyoming swimming camp coach.

“Our coach always said every time you get in the pool to practice, go with the mindset of getting better,” Hulstine said. “Even if it is 5 percent, it adds up every week, and you are going to take time off.”

Using the motto, Hulstine prepared for what he described as the largest meet of his life Aug. 9 to 13 at Clovis North High School in Fresno, Calif. — the 2011 Western Zone Age Group Championships.

Hulstine qualified for the meet during the 2011 Long Course State Championships on July 29 to 31 in Lakewood.

Like the state championships, Hulstine said he knew he matched up well with his competition.

“We were paired up in our age groups and so we matched up better,” he said. “In the section meet in Oregon earlier in the season, we competed against college swimmers, so it was easier just competing against high school athletes.”

Hulstine competed in the 17- to 18-year-old division for the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke and in the 18 and younger division for the 200- and 400-meter medley relays.

Again, just like the state championships, Hulstine walked away a champion in both the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke.

Only this time, it was on a bigger stage, competing against swimmers from 11 different states as a part of the Colorado team.

“I was really happy because taking first was a goal I was shooting for,” he said. “It was a large meet that stretched five days, but it was definitely the best meet of the season for me.”

Hulstine came in at 2 minutes, 29.79 seconds in the 200-meter breaststroke and 1 minute, 7.25 seconds in the 100-meter breaststroke.

The incoming Moffat County High School junior’s time in the 100-meter breaststroke also allowed him to accomplish another goal — swim a Junior National Championships qualifying time.

The mark he had to meet in a long course pool was 1 minute, 7.79 seconds.

“Coming in, I really wanted to swim a Junior National (Championships) qualifying time,” he said. “I couldn’t go to the meet this year, but I am already ready for next year. It will have more competition and swimmers from all over the country.”

The 2011 Speedo Junior National Championships took place Aug. 8 to 12 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., but Hulstine’s time makes him eligible for the 2012 Speedo Junior National Championships on Aug. 13 to 17 in Indianapolis, Ind.

As a member of the 200- and 400-meter medley relays, Hulstine and the Colorado team took fifth in both events, coming in at 2 minutes, 0.25 seconds and 4 minutes, 26.84 seconds, respectively.

The Colorado team also took second overall out of 16 teams, losing out only to Pacific Swimming.

Hulstine, who swims on the MCHS boys varsity swim team and the Craig Sea Sharks swim team, practices in a 25-meter short course pool for both his teams, the zone meet and state championships had him competing in a 50-meter long course pool.

“In long course pools, you have less turns and you just need more endurance,” Hulstine said. “Because you don’t have the walls to turn off of as frequently, you have to have better technique as well so you can go faster and not rely on the wall.

“I competed in a lot of long course pools this summer, so I think I had enough experience to have my technique down.”

The zone meet was the last of the summer season for Hulstine, who now turns his attention toward the high school season coming in the spring.

Hulstine said he would like to qualify for the Junior National Championships in the 200-meter breaststroke as well, but he is also looking on to the future of his swimming career.

“Before this past weekend, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to swim in college,” he said. “But, after qualifying for the Junior National Championships, I am very sure it is something I want to do. I have been moving up and swimming with higher-level swimmers and I think that has given me a confidence boost.”

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