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Gleeful Garcia lights up the pool in the 50 freestyle

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By Michael Hicks

ARVADA — Santana Garcia came out of the pool with his ever-present gleeful smile. He had a good reason to be so chipper. The Chatfield Senior High sophomore blitzed the field in the 50-yard freestyle.
“It felt powerful. baby. I felt great. My turn was a little slow, but besides that, it was a great race,” Garcia said moments after posting a winning time of 22.02 seconds at the 2014 Jeffco Invite at the George J. Meyers Swimming Center.
It was the first of two top-two finishes for Garcia, who later came in second in the 100 backstroke in 55.42 seconds. He finished nearly 5 seconds back of Thompson Valley’s Jack Thorne, who broke his own meet record time set in 2013 in that event. But even that finish couldn’t take away from Garcia’s lightning-fast swim in the 50 freestyle.
It wasn’t his best time in the event. That would be a 21.03 he swam out of state in Texas. It wasn’t even his best time this season. That was a 21.76 at the Dick Rush Coaches Invite last month. But it will do.
“I really wasn’t expecting to beat it. I just wanted to get close to it, and that’s what I accomplished,” Garcia said. “All of the training I’m doing is finally coming through. I feel more powerful in the water. My technique is a little bit better. All of that is adding up to a great swim.”
Chatfield placed fifth in the field of 24 teams with 186 points. D’Evelyn won the meet with 252 points, edging out Thompson Valley by two points courtesy of a second-place finish in the meet-closing 400-freestyle relay. Thompson Valley took third in that race, while the Chargers were fourth in 3 minutes, 19.41 seconds.
Chatfield finished third in the meet-opening 200 medley relay. The foursome of Garcia, Kelly Huddleston, Jacob Stier and Eric Berg swam a combined time of 1 minute, 41.37 seconds. It was the first of two finals for Huddleston, who later came in seventh in the 200-individual medley in 2:03.52. He finished 9 seconds back of Pomona’s Keegan Foulke, who broke his own meet record by nearly a second.
Where Huddleston finished wasn’t as important to him as how he finished.
“I was just looking to beat my time from yesterday (in the preliminary round),” said Huddleston, who did that by 1.55 seconds. He also placed eighth in the 100 butterfly in 56.22. “The competition is crazy here. We’ve got some great guys (like D’Evelyn’s) Daniel Graber. I saw Keegan was like 1:54. That’s crazy.”
Chatfield added a trio of sixth-place finishes. Berg swam the 50 freestyle in 23.40 seconds, Matt Jagiello scored 385.15 in 1-meter diving, and Cal Reynolds finished the 100 butterfly in 55.98.
Columbine’s lone finalist – Mitchell Bartlett – took third in the 50 freestyle in 23.15 seconds.

Contact Michael Hicks at sports@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.