Building on experience
Returners provide backbone for strong team
The Moffat County girls swim team could borrow a little from the U.S. Marines slogan, changing it to say, “The few, the proud, the swimmers.”
Swimming is not easy, and the team is made of a select group.
Just ask the girls who tried the sport in the first week this year and are no longer on the team.
“People don’t realize how tough (swimming) is,” senior Katie Gainor said. “Then, when they try it, they find out it’s not easy.”
The Bulldog swim team is bolstered by a group of swimmers who have accepted the trials of endless laps in the pool. Gainor, senior Ashleigh McDonald, junior Vanessa Murray and sophomores Caitlin Conci and Kelsey Conci will lead the team this year.
“We have a good group of girls who are experienced,” coach Jennifer Zimmerman said. “They will be great leaders for us this year.”
That group also returns this year with four new school records.
Kelsey Conci broke school records in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle races. Caitlin Conci is the new 100 backstroke record holder. The 400 freestyle relay of both Concis, Gainor and 2005 graduate Sari Maneotis is the fourth record.
“We hope that we’ll have enough ability to make up for Sari’s absence,” Gainor said.
This is Zimmerman’s second year as coach. She said she feels more comfortable this year.
“It helps to have so many returning swimmers,” she said. “I feel like I’m more in a groove with these girls.”
Zimmerman said she feels this year’s team is close-knit. There is also depth at every stroke.
Gainor finished eighth in the region last year in the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly. McDonald was also eighth in the breaststroke. The Conci twins qualified for state as individuals last year, with Caitlin as the backstroke expert and Kelsey as the freestyle sprinter. Murray is also a strong sprinter.
An important factor for the Bulldogs this year is that there will be some stroke depth. Steamboat Springs senior Alyssa Pierson, and sophomores Meghan Innes and Clarissa Dilldine, will help with the team’s depth.
Although numbers have dwindled from 25 the first week into the teens, the numbers are still there.
“We’ll still be one of the smallest teams on the Western Slope,’ McDonald said. “But we will have more than one relay sometimes and that helps the team.”
Having enough for more than one relay team in each event also allows the inexperienced swimmers some experience.
“It helps to have a chance to compete and see what it’s like,” Pierson said.
The depth also helps in scoring points.
Last year, with just six girls who scored at the Western Slope Championships, the Bulldogs finished seventh out of 11 teams.
“With our depth we’ll have the capability of being a strong team,” Zimmerman said. “This team is a good group.”
The Moffat team isn’t complete without mentioning the divers.
Diving coach Dave Fix said the numbers for his squad were unclear but “we have some talented girls going out,” he said.
The Bulldogs will start the season Dec. 3 in Grand Junction.
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