Making waves: El Pomar Natatorium a hit among Snowflake Open participants
Rebecca Carcaterra of Team Sopris had the same reaction many of the swimmers had at the Snowflake Open at El Pomar Natatorium on the campus of Mesa State College.
When she arrived for the two-day event Saturday, Carcaterra said many of her teammates from the Glenwood Springs area swim team were in the natatorium for the first time.
“We were like ‘wow’,” Carcaterra said. “There hasn’t been this nice of a pool on the Western Slope. It’s really good that there can be a big pool for the big meets.”
At the event Sunday, Carcaterra’s excitement was shared by the eight teams and swimmers ranging from ages 5 to 18. The Aspen Swim Club brought five swimmers, and according to coach Stewart Nixon, were all taken aback by the new facility.
“When they got in (Saturday) there was a wide-eyed ‘this is cool’ look,” Nixon said. “It’s not that none of them had been to a facility like this, but being able to come out and have this in our backyard of the Western Slope, they were surprised and excited.” The enthusiasm wasn’t limited to the clubs that came to the Grand Valley for the race. Local teams the Grand Junction Dolphins and Grand Valley Wave also were itching to get into the pool and race.
“We’ve been practicing here since the middle of December, so they knew how fast it was,” Grand Junction Dolphins coach Dale Leonhart said. “They were excited to come here and swim some races because they knew they’d get some sweet times, and they have.”
Although swimming at the El Pomar Natatorium has been the buzz this year, the Snowflake Open is an important meet regardless of the facility. Roughly one month before the Western Slope Championships, and two months before the state championships, the Snowflake Open allows the Western Slope teams to submerge themselves into a competitive atmosphere.
“We needed a local competition that was relatively close for the Western Slope swimmers,” Leonhart said. “This provides us an opportunity to get a mid-season competition that would validate the training, and set them up for the short-course championship meets.”
The Snowflake ended up being a three-team race as the Montrose Marlins finished atop the team scores with 4,057 points. The Dolphins finished second with 3,651 points and Team Sopris finished third with 3,541 points. There were 70 events spread over the two days. The Dolphins winners included Taylor Kidd in the girls 11-12 100-yard freestyle, Nick Neste in the 15-and-over, 50-yard freestyle, and Carlos Matthews in the boys 13-14 200-yard freestyle.