The will to win: Fruita Monument’s Leah Temple has appetite for mastering 50-yard free

Fruita Monument swimmer Leah Temple knows a little something about desire.

Temple is one of the strongest Grand Valley swimmers in the 50-yard freestyle, an event that, more than any other, comes down to who has the biggest will to win.

Saturday at the Orchard Mesa Community Pool in a triangular meet with Glenwood Springs and Palisade/Central, Temple finished first in the 50-free in 27.16 seconds. Temple finished a few seconds ahead of teammate Melissa Hoffman, who touched the wall at 29.40.

Fruita Monument coach Jessica Haley said the 50-free is an event that requires a certain type of swimmer.

“As a swimmer in the 50 free, your mind should go blank because it’s all about the start and the turn,” Haley said. “The ideal 50 free swimmer would probably take only one breath, and usually the swimmer who wins the turn wins the race.”

Temple has been strong for the Wildcats all season in the event. Temple said her best performances usually come in the final 25-yards.

“I’m a catchup swimmer,” Temple said. “That means the first 25 I’m right with them, then it’s in the second 25 where I try to pass them.”

Temple said in the final 25 yards, it’s her competitive nature that drives her to the wall.

“The 50 free is a race where it comes down to who wants it the most,” Temple said. “Who can get off the block and flip turn the fastest.”

Haley said Temple is a great closer in the race. She added that Temple might not always be the quickest off the block, but tends to find a way to finish near the top.

“She’s the type of swimmer where she likes to play cat and mouse with you,” Haley said. “She’ll let the other swimmer get a little ahead, then she’s going to catch them on the turn and wheel them in. She doesn’t like to beat.”

Temple is working toward making the state qualifying time of 26 seconds. Haley said right now her best time is 26.69.

“That’s her big season goal,” Haley said. “She’s improved a lot from last year, and has been doing a stellar job.”

Temple’s first-place finish in the 50 free, along with a second-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle, wasn’t enough to propel the Wildcats past a talented Glenwood Springs team, which defeated Fruita 118-99. The Demons took down Palisade/Central 157-32 and Fruita defeated Palisade/Central 161-28.

“I would say we swam consistent,” Haley said. “Glenwood is a great team for us to race so the girls can see some very talented swimming.”

Although the WarDogs didn’t finish very high in team points, Palisade/Central still had some good swims. Cory Swim finished eighth in the 100 free at 1:15.39 and Sarah Kem finished ninth in the 50 free at 34.48.

“We were real sluggish in the first half of the meet,” WarDogs coach Steve Weir said. “But in the second half the girls turned it around and started hitting some best times.”

The Grand Junction swim team was in Aspen for a triangular meet with Aspen and Moffat County. The Tigers struggled, losing to Moffat County 80-70, then falling to Aspen 102-56. Jessica Deters finished second in the 100 butterfly in 1:12.70, Chloe Jagelski finished second in the 500 freestyle in 6:52.00 and diver Gillian McLean had a 202.70 in a six-dive format to lead the Tigers.


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