Craig Sea Sharks swimmer Micah Espinosa swims during last year’s Sea Sharks ABC meet at the Craig Swimming Complex. Alexa Ruppel, of Steamboat Springs, took over as coach of the Sea Sharks in the spring.

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Craig Sea Sharks swimmer Micah Espinosa swims during last year’s Sea Sharks ABC meet at the Craig Swimming Complex. Alexa Ruppel, of Steamboat Springs, took over as coach of the Sea Sharks in the spring.

New Craig Sea Sharks coach ready for big results

Schedule

Remaining events for the Sea Sharks:

(Date — location/event)

• June 17 to 19 — Grand Junction

• June 25 to 26 — Aspen

• July 8 to 10 — Craig

• July 15 to 17 — Montrose

• July 22 to 24 — Western Slope Championships in Grand Junction

• July 29 to 31 — Long Course State Championships in Denver

• Aug. 5 to 7 — Seasonal State in Craig

After swimming almost her entire life, Alex Ruppel said she wanted to teach others what she had learned.

In the spring, Ruppel, 19, became the new coach for the Craig Sea Sharks swimming team.

“If anything can give instant reward, it is coaching,” Ruppel said Thursday. “When a swimmer gets done competing and you see the smile on their face, it is very gratifying because you as a coach spent all the hours teaching that kid how to swim.”

Ruppel is a Steamboat Springs native who grew up swimming on the Steamboat summer swim team. Currently, Ruppel swims for the University of Colorado.

“The position came up in the spring, and I have seen some of the swimmers compete for five years,” Ruppel said. “The Sea Sharks is a strong team and I wanted to help them continue to succeed.”

With help from assistant coach Katherine Dodd, who swims for Randolph Macon College in Virginia, the two coach between 30 and 40 kids who range from 6 to 17 years old.

Ruppel said coaching younger swimmers is completely different than coaching older swimmers.

“When swimmers are younger, it is all about basics,” she said. “We have to teach them about their strokes and basically how to get from one end of the pool to the other.”

As for more seasoned swimmers, Ruppel said basics still play a part.

“We never stop teaching the basics of all the strokes,” she said. “But, when swimmers get older, we work with them on pacing themselves and what they have to do to achieve the goals they set at the beginning of the season.”

Ruppel said early in the season she has a feel for the swimmers who could make big strides this season.

Matt Hulstine, a Moffat County High School state finisher, is one of those swimmers.

“Matt has already qualified for seasonal state in the 100-yard breaststroke and if he takes four seconds off his 200, he will qualify in that, as well,” Ruppel said. “Matt has gone to a Wyoming swimming camp and is very set on achieving the goals he has set for himself.”

From the younger swimmers, Ruppel said Colby Beckett, 11, and Berk Henderson, 8, have great potential.

“Colby gets what he has to do and he will come a long ways this summer,” she said. “Berk is just getting the basics down and will go even faster as the season progresses.”

The Sea Sharks competed in their first meet June 3 and 4 in Rangely. Five individuals and one relay team took home first place.

The team will compete in Grand Junction on June 17 to 19, but Ruppel said all her swimmers are looking forward to their first home meet July 8 to 10 at Craig Swimming Complex.

“We really like to go on the road and face great competition, but a home meet is always important,” she said. “The swimmers get excited to compete in front of a home crowd and in their home pool.”

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