Craig Sea Sharks have home water advantage in state meet | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig Sea Sharks have home water advantage in state meet

Seasonal swim teams compete for glory Friday through Sunday

Jaci McDiffett starts out the 400-meter medley relay team with the backstroke Saturday afternoon at the Craig Pool Complex during the Seasonal State Meet. Craig Sea Sharks hosted the event, complete with nearly 300 young athletes.

The Craig City Pool was bursting with ocean life this weekend, as dolphins, barracudas, turtles, stingrays and more hit the blue. Still, a school of sharks defended their home water mightily.

The Seasonal State Meet hosted by the Craig Sea SharksCraig Sea Sharks youth swim program brought in hundreds of young athletes and their families this weekend to race their hearts out in the Northwest Colorado premises. youth swim program brought in hundreds of young athletes and their families this weekend to race their hearts out in the Northwest Colorado premises.

Craig Sea Sharks youth swim program brought in hundreds of young athletes and their families this weekend to race their hearts out in the Northwest Colorado premises.

With 295 total kids from 24 teams around Colorado making up 1,692 total entries across 130 races, the city pool and the park surrounding it were packed with people, the biggest group being the Valley Dolphins with 42 competitors, with Flying Horse Aquatics Club, Gunnison Stingrays, Colorado Springs Racquet Club, Salida Cyclones, Battlement Mesa Sea Turtles, Morgan Marlins, Rangely Hurricanes and Delta Barracudas were among the other teams.

The Sea Sharks had a roster of 16 ready to follow their state-qualifying times with additional excellence: Jacob Briggs, Eli Francone, Milo Gifford, Owen Gifford, Sarah Johnson, Hudson Jones, Nathan LeFevre, Travis LeFevre, Jaci McDiffett, Kelsey McDiffett, Noah Mortenson, Wyatt Mortenson, Alexa Neton, Megan Neton, Molly Neton and Patrick Neton.

After the first day of competition, teams met up in Veterans Memorial Park Friday evening, though no longer in their swim gear. A special Olympic ceremony took place as each group represented a different country through flags and costumes, with kids dressed as Norwegian Vikings, sporting Irish shamrocks, wrapped in Greek togas and other international accoutrement.

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As the hosts, Sea Sharks had the honor of representing the United States, with state swimmers, as well as additional team members acting as ambassadors, each clad in an All-American outfit: aviator sunglasses, a white t-shirt, blue jeans or shorts and a star-spangled bandana.

As the action continued Saturday, swimmers were glad to be in the cool water while parents were on the side of the pool baking in the summer sun. However, Craig kids were the first to take center stage for a dance break between rounds by jumping up on the starting blocks to get moving to "Macarena and "The Chicken Dance" as organizers played the tunes.

Alexa Neton and Kelsey McDiffett were promptly back in the water after the funky respite but couldn't stop laughing.

"We've been practicing that since kindergarten," Kelsey joked.

The dance was a stress reliever following the 400-meter medley relay, which Kelsey and Alexa swam with their elder sisters, Jaci and Molly, respectively.

Coming up to the edge can be a little scary when there's a lot on the line, Kelsey said.

Both performed well in the team event, though Alexa said it's the individual 400 freestyle she likes best, preferring the distance races.

"I can do both, but I like the longer ones," she said.

While Friday and Saturday were blazing hot, Sunday’s cloudy conditions left the climate cool in the morning for a welcome change, but a lingering threat of lightning required everyone to vacate the pool hour for several hours, postponing the afternoon session.

The Daily Press will have full results of local swimmers from the state meet later this week.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.