Water works: Neste has made swimming a commitment

Photo by Dean Humphrey—Nick Neste’s focus is on qualifying for the state swimming championships in one of two events — the 50 or 100 freestyle.

People try to find many things on vacation — adventure, relaxation, or simply a cheap souvenir.

When District 51 swimmer Nick Neste was in elementary school, he found a sport.

“I was swimming at a hotel pool,” Neste said. “I was kind of messing around and my parents said I should try it.”

Years later, Neste is still swimming, and has been one of the top swimmers for the Griffins.

On Saturday in a meet against Durango, Gunnison, and Glenwood Springs, he won the 200-yard individual medley and was part of the winning 400 freestyle relay team.

Neste was in sixth grade when he started swimming, when his family was living in Colorado Springs.

He got his start in the pool with the Colorado Springs Swim Team, and in his first practice, he was pitted against one of the best swimmers on the team.

“I kind of got intimidated at first,” Neste said. “But I became friends with the guys and got used to the whole swimming thing, so after that I started to love it.”

Although he tried his hand at lacrosse, he enjoyed the aspect of accountability that comes with an individual sport.

“In lacrosse your whole team depends on you, but when you’re swimming, it’s just trying to beat your own times,” Neste said.

Before his eighth grade year, his family moved to Grand Junction and Neste started focusing more on his swimming.

He joined the Grand Junction Dolphins and started swimming year-round rather than only in the summer.

“I decided that I hopefully had some potential to become pretty good,” Neste said. “I really wanted to try and push it, so I decided that year-round was the only way that I could do it.”

This year, he’s hoping for a solo berth in state in either the 50 or 100 freestyle events. He’s dealt with illness lately that has kept him from getting his best times, but Neste has been focused on making an impact at the Jeffco Invite on April 16-17.

Neste credits much of his success early in the year to the influence of his teammates.

“At the beginning of the year our coach had us find a partner that would push us farther through all our practices,” Neste said. “I chose the right partner.”

His partner is Tyler Walton, who qualified Saturday for the state meet in the 50 free with a time of 23.01.

The Griffins won the meet with a score of 123 points, Durango had 67, Gunnison had eight and Glenwood finished with seven.

“The guys who are working hard, definitely their work is showing,” coach Dale Leonhart said.

Along with Walton, the Griffins also had a state qualifying time from their 200 medley relay team of Tanner Chapin, Taylor Fisher, Walton and Ian Smith. Durango’s Teale Kitson posted state qualifying times in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.

Now the District 51 team has its sights set on the Jeffco Invite.

“At that meet we’re hoping we can have a good strong showing and our guys can excel in the race that they’re better at,” Leonhart said.

“We’ll definitely try to swim our best lineup at that meet.”


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