Team Sopris, the local club swim team for kids ages 5 and up, has been busy this holiday season, both in and out of the water.
The team hosted its winter season home meet, the Deep Freeze Invitational, Nov. 17-18. Shortly after, the team showed up in droves to co-host and volunteer at the annual Turkey Trot fundraiser on Thanksgiving Day.
This coming weekend, qualifying swimmers will travel to the University of Denver to compete in the CSI Pioneer Open.
"We're in the thick of our short-course season right now," said Team Sopris head coach Damon Garrison. "All age groups are training really hard heading into the holidays. There's no break for us."
The Deep Freeze Invitational was a huge success, with Team Sopris playing host to more than 250 swimmers from throughout the Western Slope and Front Range.
For many Team Sopris swimmers, this was their first meet.
"It was so great to see our newest developmental swimmers try their hand at competing," Garrison said. "Each younger swimmer was paired with an older teammate and everyone cheered for each other. Our home meet is always fun for all of our swimmers, and the visiting teams give it rave reviews."
"We had quite a few DQs with our younger swimmers, which is to be expected at their first meet," Garrison continued. "It tells us where we are and what we need to work on. Many other teams brought a slew of new swimmers as well, so everyone was in the same boat. Quite a few of our youngest swimmers are super competitive, so it was a lot of fun to watch them race."
Team Sopris, along with the Glenwood Springs High School boys and girls swim teams, took over hosting the annual Turkey Trot 5K and Shortcut Fun Run on Thanksgiving Day.
More than 500 runners turned out to help the teams raise money for the self-funded high school programs, as well as Team Sopris' scholarship fund.
"Quite a few of our swimmers would not be able to participate if the team didn't offer scholarships, so fundraising is very important for us," noted Team Sopris board member Jeff Tuttle. "We had a lot of families from Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties take time out of their Thanksgiving holiday to volunteer, and all three swim teams were well represented. We are so appreciative of the community and the support they show our swimming programs.
"It was a lot of fun, and we're excited about continuing this new holiday tradition. From what I heard, the runners really liked the new course at the Community Center - in spite of all the hills."
Qualifying swimmers headed to the University of Denver this weekend to compete in the CSI Pioneer Open, a midseason championship meet with a prelims-and-finals format.
"We treat this meet like a mini-championship meet," Garrison explained. "Our swimmers will do a short taper in preparation for the meet, which becomes more competitive each year. It's a good time to test ourselves against the top swimmers in the state and set new goals for the rest of the season."
Once the Pioneer Open is over, it's back to work for the team.
Practices for the team will intensify throughout December and January in preparation for Western Slope League and State Championship meets in February and March, as well as Sectionals later in March.
"Short-course season is really long," Garrison continued. "It's nice to break it up a bit with a fast meet in December before we really ramp up in anticipation of what's going to be an exciting championship season."
Information about Team Sopris, including practice schedules, meet schedules, tryout times and more, can be found on the team's website