Wednesday marked the final practice of the summer for the Craig Sea Sharks youth swimming team as it prepares for the final meet of the season.
The Craig team will send 10 swimmers across its age groups to the Seasonal State Meet in Canon City Friday through Sunday, competing at the highest level Colorado has to offer for summer swimming.
“The time standards for (state) are high, even compared to Western Slope Championships,” said coach Paul Jones. “So the fact that we have 10 going is great, and it’s not all necessarily older swimmers. It’s spread out through the age groups.”
Seasonal State is the last meet of the summer for the Sea Sharks and an opportunity for summer swimmers to show off how much they’ve improved in just a few months. As opposed to some other summer events, Seasonal State is only for swimmers competing in the summer, not year-round athletes.
So some Sea Sharks swimmers who compete year round will not be participating despite having swum qualifying times. But for those who have just participated in the summer, it’s an exciting opportunity to see where they stack up.
“It’s easier than Western Slope (Championships) because we’re not swimming against any teams who swim year round,” said Alexa Neton, who will swim in several events this weekend.
For coach Jones, sending 10 swimmers in various age groups is an accomplishment in its own right, especially based on where some of the younger swimmers began this season.
“My younger guys, we used to struggle to get in 500 meters (of swimming) during practice because we knew we had to spend time on technique,” Jones said. “Now they’ve been doing 1,000 meters every day, with good strokes all the way. That’s awesome.”
Events begin at 8 a.m. Friday, and it picks up at the same time Saturday and Sunday mornings. Sea Sharks swimmers are ready to hit the water.
“I’m excited for it,” said Kelsey McDiffett. “I want to get in the top three (in my events) because my dad said he and my sister will give me a dollar.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org