Happy birthday: Norris ‘ages up’ into tough group

Steven Norris with the Maverick Aquatics Swim Club celebrated his 13th birthday Monday during the MAValanche swim meet at El Pomar Natatorium, but also lamented having to move up into arguably the toughest age group in the state for boys in swimming.

A birthday is cause for celebration, but for swimmer Steven Norris, turning 13 means he “ages up.”

After winning the 100-yard butterfly prelims in the 11-12 boys race during the MAValanche meet at the El Pomar Natatorium this weekend, Norris turned 13 years old Monday during the MAValanche finals.

He finished second Monday in the finals of the 11-12 age group’s 100 butterfly in 1 minute, 10.51 seconds.

However, in his next meet, he’ll move into the 13-14 age group and will have to meet state qualifying times in the older division.

Maverick Aquatics coach Ed Stehlin said the 13-14 boys age division is one of the most challenging in the state, as well as the nation.

“Steven would have (qualified for the state meet) at the 12-year-old level,” Stehlin said. “He probably still makes Silver State with his time, but the 13-14 age division is absolutely brutal for boys.”

The state qualifying time for his event in the 13-14 division is 1:04.59 for a short-course yard pool; the 11-12 qualifying time is 1:15.79. The Silver State qualifying times are 1:13.89 (13-14) and 1:31.99 (11-12).

Norris isn’t looking forward to switching divisions, either.

“When you age up, it’s kind of annoying,” Norris said. “When you turn from 12 to 13, it’s the worst change for boys. I don’t know exactly how much time I have to drop for it.”

But age is something that the Maverick Aquatics team is looking forward to attaining.

Since switching from the Grand Junction Dolphins to Maverick Aquatics two years ago, as well as the exposure the London Olympics had, Stehlin said the club swimming program has seen large amounts of growth, and unprecedented amounts of success.

With time, Stehlin said he hopes the club swimming program in Grand Junction can be competitive with programs on the Front Range.

“Obviously we don’t have the resources that an eastern slope team does, or the population,” Stehlin said. “The challenge for us is just getting numbers up, and this year we’ve seen a lot of growth, especially with the older age groups.

“I think the quality will come with time. You can’t beat this facility, we just need time to develop the kids.”

Stehlin credited the success to growing numbers of youngsters interested in swimming.

“We’ve had so many (state qualifiers), specifically in this meet, from our youngest kids all the way up to our 15-year-olds,” Stehlin said. “We’ve had a ton of time drops, and I can’t remember this many kids qualifying in at least 20 years.

“Ultimately, the team has grown. We’re around 100 kids, maybe even a little over. The older groups have grown, and that helps the program tremendously. The future of the team is looking really promising.”


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