Young GJ swimmers win District 51 Championships

Young GJ swimmers win District 51 Championships

Grand Junction’s Olivia Bobillier, right, plows through the water during the final lap of the girls 100 yard freestyle to finish first with a time of 1:01:35, two-tenths of a second ahead of Fruita Monument’s Kiaja Thomas, above, who had a time of 1:01.55,  during the District 51 Championships Wednesday at El Pomar Natatorium.



Grand Junction’s Olivia Bobillier takes a breath Wednesday during the 100-yard freestyle race at El Pomar Natatorium. Bobillier won the race, touching the wall just before Fruita’s Kiaja Thomas, top.

The District 51 Championships came down to one race.

With 501.5 points each, a young Grand Junction High School girls swim team and an even younger Fruita Monument team lined up Wednesday at El Pomar Natatorium to determine the title in final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Freshman Taylor Kidd, who has qualified for state in the 100-yard freestyle, 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly, sealed the deal by extending the Grand Junction lead to 24 seconds and giving the Tigers their second state-qualified relay team and the district title.

Olivia Bobillier, a French foreign exchange student, also came up big for the Tigers. Bobillier, who didn’t swim competitively before this year, won the 50-yard freestyle, 100 freestyle, and swam the opening leg on the winning 200 freestyle relay team. She’s only three-tenths of a second from the 26.00 qualifying time for state in the 50 free.

“(Swimming) isn’t a big deal for me after competing in snowboarding and gymnastics,” she said. “Being on the team is one of the best parts of my exchange. The only thing is, I cuss in French in my head because I haven’t made state.”

The focus for the Tigers is growth rather than a high number of state qualifiers.

“We only have three seniors,” coach Janet Ryan said. “The rest of them are pretty much underclassmen. Just seeing all the girls improving and the excitement has been the best part of the season.”

The Tigers won eight events, including personal bests from Marina Silva, who won the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke. Bobillier and the rest of the swimmers have one last chance to qualify for state at the Western Slope Championships, Feb. 3-4 at El Pomar.

For Fruita, Wednesday’s meet was when the Wildcats started tapering their workout load to hopefully get some state qualifiers. The Wildcats have one lone qualifier, diver Tamera Newlands, but the end of a challenging practice schedule has seen girls drop large amounts of time. Junior Kiaja Thomas, who won the 200 freestyle, dropped seven seconds in just more than a week.

“This is the hardest-working group of girls I’ve coached,” coach Jessica Haley said. “They’ve been doing two-a-days up until a couple weeks ago. This has probably been their best meet up to this point. They’re dropping time and just having fun.”

Fruita won four events, but kept up with Grand Junction with several second- and third-place finishes. The 200 medley relay team is the closest Wildcats are to qualifying for state, with 5.63 seconds to drop. 

Building a sense of team has been the most important thing for the combined Central/Palisade WarDogs. The WarDogs have no state qualifiers, but are focused on team unity.

“We’re getting closer, but we’re not quite there yet,” coach Steve Weir said. “The 200 free relay is close, but I don’t think they’ll get there this year.”


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