This group of Tigers isn’t afraid of the water in Thornton.
Six swimmers from Grand Junction High School will bring confidence to the Class 4A state meet Tuesday and Wednesday at the Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center in Thornton.
With a strong group of sophomores who got experience swimming at state last year and some veteran senior leaders, the Tigers are pumped to dive into the pool.
“I’m looking forward to being with my teammates for the last time,” said senior Chloe Dalton, who will swim in the 100-yard butterfly as well as the 200 medley relay. “Not necessarily just the swimming part, but the ‘being part of a team’ part.”
Dalton will be joined at state by another senior, Delaney Kidd, who has been one of the leaders of the program since her freshman year.
“I’m looking forward to it, it being my last one,” Kidd said. “It’s fun to go over there and compete against people you don’t get to compete against. When you’re (on the Western Slope), it’s sort of the same people every time. That’s fun because it’s friendly competition because we know who we’re racing against, but it’s also cool to go in sort of blind like you don’t know who you’re racing against.”
Kidd will swim in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke, as well as the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.
Kidd and Dalton provide the Tigers with veteran voices, but the core of the team is a group of sophomores.
Sarah Cook (200 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay), Riley Pope (200 individual medley, 500 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay), Nina English (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay) and Sarah Gaumer (100 butterfly, one of the relays) are all making return trips to state.
“It’s really nice because I didn’t make it (for an individual event) last year,” Gaumer said. “I’m really proud of myself that I pushed myself hard enough to go this year.”
Cook had the highest individual finish last season for Grand Junction, touching the wall fourth in the 100 breaststroke and sixth in the 100 butterfly. English finished fifth in the 100 freestyle and eighth in the 50 free.
“It did a lot for my confidence,” Cook said of last season’s state meet. “I know I’m a lot stronger than last year. I know from best time in conference that I can go faster. I’m hoping I can get a top three spot. I’ve been working really hard for it.”
Some of the Tigers’ swimmers qualified for more than four events, but at the state meet, swimmers may only participate in two individual event and two relays or one individual event and three relays.
Fruita Monument freshman Emma Kimbrough is hoping to get some valuable experience in her first trip to state.
Kimbrough qualified for six individual events and three relays. She’ll swim in the 200 IM, 100 breaststroke and the 200 medley and 400 free relays.
“It makes me feel like I can swim better with the older kids,” Kimbrough said. “Hopefully, I’ll drop more time. Most of all, though, I’m going to have fun with my team.”
Junior Eliza Codner also will swim in four events at state for the Wildcats — the 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly and both relays with Kimbrough.
“All the teammates that are going, a lot of them are my really good friends,” Codner said. “I think it will be a fun experience to swim against girls who are faster than me, who can challenge me and make me go faster.”
Those traveling teammates are senior Autumn Detor (200 IM, both relays), sophomore Taylor Wall (500 freestyle, 400 free relay) and sophomore Elisa Elsberry (200 medley relay).
Six swimmers will represent Montrose, mostly in the relays.
Senior Natalee Luis and junior Alex Waxler will swim in the 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays. Sophomore Megan Waxler and freshman Julia TenNaple will participate in two of the relays. Freshmen Ashleigh Richards and Caitlyn Dillon will both swim in one of the relays.
TenNaple will also compete in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke.
The 3A state meet begins today with preliminaries and concludes Saturday with finals.
Four girls are representing Delta: Brooklynn Mininger, Jillian Carlson, Madyson Hannegrefs and Sarah Bules. All four are swimming in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays.
Carlson is swimming in the 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke. Hannegrefs and Bules are swimming in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke, respectively.