Swimmers swarm to GJ for Zones Championship

More than 700 swimmers from 13 Western states are swarming to the area for the Zones Age Group Swim Championships.

The preliminary swim meet and qualifier for sectionals and nationals will take place at El Pomar Natatorium from Tuesday through Saturday.

Maverick Aquatics swim team members Taylor Kidd and Logan Young will be represented on the Colorado Swimming team.

The event is expected to have an economic impact to Grand Junction of about $1.5 million. Athletes will book about 400 hotel rooms, said Christina Ulrich, who is serving as a public relations director.

As of Friday about 750 swimmers were registered.

“It’s more than a meet,” Ulrich said. “It’s an event.”

The “event” will include skits that most of the swim teams will perform at the south end of the pool prior to finals. Four skits will be performed each night, Wednesday through Saturday.

“They’ll all get together and make a little play, or something goofy and creative,” Ulrich said.

And the athletes will engage in a pin exchange, swapping pins featuring each team’s state like kids at a baseball card trading party.

“Exactly what’s happening at the Olympics,” Ulrich said.

Expect to see the 10-to-18 year olds buzzing around town, particularly in hotel-lined areas off Horizon and downtown.

More than 100 swimmers are on the Colorado team, including Young, who will be a senior at Fruita Monument High School and is swimming the 1,500-meter freestyle and 200 butterfly. Kidd, a junior-to-be at Grand Junction High School, will swim in four or five events, Ulrich said.

The 50-meter pool at El Pomar Natatorium reportedly is a reason so many teams come from as far as Alaska and Hawaii to swim at the pool on the Colorado Mesa University campus.

“The Alaska team arrived (Thursday),” Ulrich said. “They don’t have a 50-meter pool there. But it’s quite a mental change going from 25 to 50 meters.”

Ulrich said those associated with the meet were hoping Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin would attend the meet.

“We were hoping she would come for fun,” Ulrich said. “She would have with her personality. But she’s at the Olympics.”

The meet also features an open-water swim on Aug. 12 at Highline Lake Park and a 25-meter portable warmup pool outside of the natatorium.

“That’s not something you see every day,” Ulrich said of the portable pool.

On Tuesday, preliminaries begin at 10 a.m.

Wednesday through Saturday, preliminaries begin at 8:30 a.m. with finals beginning about 5 p.m. Ulrich expects finals to end about 8 p.m. each day.

“We’re hoping this event will run well and get enough publicity to where we host it on a rotating system every five years,” Ulrich said. “It’s very lucrative for the area.”


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