GOLDEN — Tents filled every last square inch and then some at The Splash Pool from July 27-29. It wasn’t Occupy Golden, but rather the Colorado State Summer Club Championships.
A total of 1,203 swimmers ranging in age from 4-18 from 53 teams, along with friends and families, filled the outdoor pool with smiles and cheer, each guided by hopes of walking away with medals, ribbons and top finishing times.
The meet welcomes swimmers from all over Colorado, some traveling from as far away as Greeley and Colorado Springs who’ve achieved qualifying times throughout the regular summer season.
The Virginia Vale won the meet for the fourth year in a row with a combined team score of 1,515. The Vale laid claim to 17 first-place finishes — five of which with record-breaking times. The Columbine Knolls, led by head coach Kristi Marosy, scored five first-place finishes en route to a 14th-place finish with 354.5 points.
“This is a great meet. The kids and their parents come out and it’s more fun (than a high school meet),” said Marosy, who noted the relaxed, but still chaotic atmosphere.
Meet director Katie Kleeman agreed.
“Everybody is happy at this meet,” Kleeman said.
Other local teams in the field included the Governor’s Ranch Gators (17th, 323.33 points), Woodbourne Wave (18th, 300.5), Ken-Caryl Swim Club (24th, 171) and the Columbine Country Club (25th, 154).
Kleeman said that despite an interruption by rain on the first day, which delayed the finish until 6 p.m., all of the swimmers and their parents seemed as if they were having a good time and enjoying the meet.
“The kids are having fun and all of their hard work throughout the season is paying off and we are seeing some great swims,” said Kleeman, who attributes the success of the meet to all of the volunteers who stepped up to organize and run the meet smoothly.
“From an organizational standpoint, there is a lot of upfront work to prepare, which allows the meet to run smoothly and lets the kids swim well,” co-director Kelly Seavall said.
With so many swimmers the need to be organized is not a luxury, but a necessity.
“We have some munchkins come out and swim,” Marosy said. “There are 4-year-olds who come out and they are just trying to make it across the pool and then there are the older kids who are going for state record times.”
Marosy’s team placed third in Division II. Three of the five first-place finishes were bagged by Grant Olsen-Stevrakas.
Olsen-Stevrakas, who swims for Marosy’s Columbine High School team during the school year, said that swimming summer league is fun, but unlike many other swimmers he had no intention of getting caught up in the laid-back vibe.
“I placed first in my events, but I didn’t get the records which sucks because that is my ultimate goal. Medals are nice, but I want the records,” Olsen-Stevrakas said.
He missed the record in all three of his individual events — 100-meter backstroke, 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley — by mere tenths of a second. But in swimming that can be the difference-maker.
“I want to be able to go to U.S. Olympic trials in 2016,” Olsen-Stevrakas said. “I have to beat my times and get some records to do that.”
Coaches and meet directors alike capitalized on the Olympic Games in London as inspiration, building the meet’s logo to look like the Olympic circles made out of bubbles — a tactic that had positive effects on the swimmers.
Now that the summer swim season has come to a close, kids, parents and coaches alike will have August to rest and get re-inspired to resume swimming again in September.