Craig Sea Sharks hosting silver medalist Kristy Kowal |

Craig Sea Sharks hosting silver medalist Kristy Kowal

Ben Bulkeley

Kristy Kowal

The Craig Sea Sharks swimming team has two coaches who swim at the collegiate level, the team will get outside inspiration later this summers; inspiration from an Olympian.

The Sea Sharks will host Olympic medalist Kristy Kowal during the team's July 9 to 11 home swimming meet.

Craig Sea Sharks president Kristine Cooper said Kowal's visit is an effort to attract more swimmers to the sport.

"We are members of the Western Slope League, and the league took initiative to try and promote summer swim clubs," she said. "They decided that bringing in an Olympian would be beneficial to the summer swim clubs, and we're the first to try it out."

Kowal, who won the silver medal in the 200-meter breaststroke during the 2000 Sydney Olympics, will talk to the young swimmers about why it is important to stay active, and how swimming has "opened doors for her," Cooper said.

"It's a really exciting opportunity," she said. "It promotes swimming as a sport in our community.

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"We think this will encourage all kids to be active, participate in sports and have a healthy lifestyle. She will speak to them about the benefits of participating in sports and what it has done for her life."

The number of swimmers has dropped in recent years, but Cooper said she hopes Kowal's visit will reignite interest in the sport.

"The exciting thing is that she is promoting swimming," she said. "It's a chance for kids to see how exciting swimming is."

But, as the Sea Sharks prepare to begin their season, they are not lacking in numbers.

"We have 41 swimmers on the roster," Cooper said. "The team size is pretty good. (Coach) Caitlin Conci's back, and Katherine Dodd will be an assistant coach."

Conci, who swims at the University of North Dakota, was the head coach last summer.

Dodd, who swam for the Sea Sharks last summer, is finishing her first year swimming for Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va.

"We're excited to have Caitlin back and to have Katherine on the team," Cooper said. "It's nice to have that continuity."

The Sea Sharks first meet is scheduled for June 4 and 5 in Rangely.

The team has spent the spring practicing at the Moffat County High School pool, but will return to the Craig Pool Complex soon.

"(Today) is the last day inside," Cooper said. "We appreciate being able to use the high school pool, but now we'll be outside."

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