Having fun

Maverick Aquatics youngsters enjoy GJ Invite swim meet

Kianna Colaizzi takes a breath during the butterfly portion of the 200-meter individual medley Friday at the Grand Junction Invitational. Colaizzi won the girls 100 11-12 backstroke title at El Pomar Natatorium.

It’s been eight years since Kianna Colaizzi sprung high off the trampoline, and, as a couple adults were bounding as well, set a stiff left arm on the trampoline.

Her arm broke and elbow dislocated. She was 4. In the next year, she said she had three surgeries: one to prepare for a supporting rod; one to insert the rod; and one to remove it.

After that, it seemed too risky to be in gymnastics, and basketball didn’t interest her. So, she swam.

On Friday at El Pomar Natatorium, with a roughly six-inch scar crossing her elbow, Colaizzi, now 12 and a member of Maverick Aquatics, won the 100-meter backstroke with a time of one minute, 20 seconds, during the first day of the Grand Junction Invitational swimming meet.

Colaizzi is just one of an influx of under-12 Mavericks’ swimmers. When Jacob Swinn first took over as head coach of the Mavericks, there were about 60 swimmers. Now, Swinn estimates there are between 120 and 130 — about 65 percent of whom are under 12.

Swinn credits the expansion to the Mavericks year-old swimming-lessons program.

“It’s definitely helped,” he said. “Plus, it’s the summer.”

The invitational enticed 20 teams, most from the Western Slope, but others came from Denver (Evergreen) and Wyoming (Rock Springs, Gillette).

Like many of the swimmers, Colaizzi was swimming in her first meet that had preliminaries and finals. The meet resumes today and ends Sunday. Preliminaries begin each day at 8:45 a.m. with finals at 5 p.m.

“It’s just a big meet for our little town,” Colaizzi said.

Colaizzi added her arm feels much better.

“The only thing I can’t do,” she said, “is lay my hand flat.”

But for the first time in her life, Colaizzi was able to say she was a top qualifier for a finals round. She could say so as, during a break before finals, she ate food and tried to sleep — if only Real Housewives of Orange County wasn’t on the television.

“I actually didn’t want to swim in the afternoon,” she said.

That’s because the past four days, she swam three hours daily at the Colorado Mesa University swimming camp. But the excitement of swimming a final round kept her juiced.

Swinn noticed as well.

“The younger ones, you’ll see them dancing to songs, whereas with some of the older ones, this just takes up their weekend,” Swinn said. “The young ones are excited to be here. For many of them, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Keanna Bonella, a 12-year-old Holy Family Middle School student and Maverick Aquatics member, said it also was her first time swimming a two-round meet. But that’s not why she participated.

“I just love to swim,” she said. “And it makes me feel good when I win.”

Bonella placed sixth in the 50 butterfly.

Also for Maverick Aquatics, Steven Norris took first in the 50 butterfly for boys age 11-12.


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