Breaking through

Painton's perseverance pays off with win at Zone Championships

Colorado Swimming’s Abby Kochevar takes a breath Saturday during the girls 13-14 100-meter freestyle at the Western Zone Age Group Championships at El Pomar Natatorium. Kochevar’s nearly one-and-a-half-second win was one of the more dominating swims of the meet.

Colorado Swimming’s Jonah Saya takes a breath during the breaststroke portion of the 200 individual medley Saturday at El Pomar Natatorium. Saya won the race by two seconds over teammate Daniel Carr. Carr got some revenge in the 100 backstroke, beating Saya to the wall. Colorado Swimming won the team title by six points over Pacific (Calif.) Swimming.

Lindsay Painton cried often in car rides from swimming practice back to her Aurora home. That was December of 2010. She almost quit.

Her failure to lower her swimming times became a two-year plateau.

Friends and family told her to keep swimming, and besides, Painton loved it.

Fast-forward to Saturday at El Pomar Natatorium. Painton’s two-year plateau is over, and not far from the highest flat-top mountain in the world, where teams from 11 states participated, Painton was involved in a zone-meet record for girls age 13-14 in the 200-meter freestyle relay.

And Colorado Swimming won the Western Zone Age Group Championships by six points over Pacific Swimming (Calif.).

Also, Painton, 14, could not stop shaking after a win in the 13-14 girls 100 backstroke, once twisting her body in back-to-back-to-back revolutions by the pool.

Her energy is back.

The plateau is a peak.

“Three months before she went on a cruise, she asked for a dry land workout for while she was on the cruise,” said Jen Warren, Painton’s dry land coach with the Colorado Stars and an assistant for the Colorado Swimming zone team. “Not many kids ask to do that. There’s not a day or workout where she doesn’t put in 110 percent.”

With the meet over, and only an open swim on Highline Lake left today, meet directors are hoping Grand Junction becomes part of a rotating cycle of cities to host the meet every five years.

Grand Junction had not hosted the meet since 1999 at Lincoln Park.

“I think this meet brought Colorado a little notoriety,” Colorado Swimming head coach Mike Novell said. “I think the way it was run helped Grand Junction get it in the future. The way the media covered it, this was something special that you can’t get in Denver or Portland.”

During Saturday’s finals, Colorado had seven individual winners and won three relays.

That included Jonah Saya, 14, of Greenwood Village, who won the 13-14 boys 200 individual medley by two seconds over teammate Daniel Carr.

Carr, however, took first in the 100 backstroke as Saya placed second.

In the 200 IM, Saya trailed Carr by a quarter of a body length going into the final turn and freestyle leg. After hitting the wall and rising to the surface, Saya had taken the lead by half a body length.

He attributes gaining the lead to underwater training that allowed him to stay under the water longer when springing off the wall. In addition, he estimated he took only eight or nine breaths over the 50-meter final leg.

“You still want oxygen in your body,” Saya said. “The finish is just keeping your head down and hoping your hand hits the wall first.”

Abby Kochevar also can claim one of the most dominating wins, a nearly one-and-a-half-second win in the 13-14 girls 100 freestyle. Her time of 58.71 topped Claire Jackson of Utah, who went 1:00.13.

Kochevar, 14, of Aurora, also anchored Colorado’s zone-record 200 freestyle relay. Other members were Painton, Kaylee Gassen, 14, of Parker, and Jessie Li, 14, of Boulder.

Some meet statistics to note:

■ 724 swimmers.

■ more than 4,000 entries.

■ 36,000 sheets of paper used/printed.

■ 52 officials.

■ teams collectively traveled more than 16,000 miles (one way).

■ about 400 hotel rooms booked.

■ more than 1,500 bottles of water consumed.

■ swimmers reportedly swam in more than 125 million gallons of water (includes outside pool and refills of inside pool).

■ economic impact of estimated $1.5 million.

■ more than 500 volunteers from Grand Junction.

■ a raffle awarded two swimming caps reportedly signed by U.S. Olympic swimming members (including Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte) at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.


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