Glenwood’s Fetzko wins PI’s Female Athlete of the Month | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood’s Fetzko wins PI’s Female Athlete of the Month

Glenwood senior Lauren Fetzko won the state championship in the 200 individual medley last month.

It's been a whirlwind senior season for Glenwood swimmer Lauren "LJ" Fetzko. Spending most of her time outside of school in the pool training and competing year-round, Fetzko has been building towards some serious individual accolades.

But nothing could prepare her for the moment she won the state championship in the 200 individual medley on Saturday, Feb. 11, in Thornton. Fetzko was utterly shocked when she touched the wall first, giving her the first 4A state championship of her career.

"My coach had known that I could possibly win it, and he believed that I could, but I still didn't really know I could do it," Fetzko said. "I didn't have a clue who I'd be racing, and I don't think a whole lot of people expected me to, or thought that I was going to win. So it was a little bit of a shock that I won. It was really exciting to be on top of that podium and to hear my name called as a state champion."

Competing for the last four years as a member of the Demons, Fetzko has played a big part in pushing the Glenwood program into the upper tier of schools in the 4A Western Slope League. In fact, along with Fetzko's standout senior season, the Demons went on to win a second consecutive regional championship while also turning in a third-place finish in the state meet in Thornton.

Due to her impressive season in the pool and her work ethic in the classroom, Fetzko has earned the Post Independent's February Female Athlete of the Month award.

"It's really cool, and I think it's really neat that swimming is starting to get more recognition," Fetzko said during a recent interview from Dallas, where she was competing in the Western Sections, which is a national level meet in the winter. "I think it kind of helps people notice swimming more, especially when you see it in the newspaper with big titles, like 'Demons place third,' things like that. And I think the state championship helps a lot. But I couldn't have done all of this without my teammates."

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Competing year-round, Fetzko has been training heavily in the pool since she was 8 years old, thanks to her parents getting her started with a stroke clinic. Since then, she's pushed away other sports to strictly focus on swimming.

One would think that competing in one sport year-round could lead to burning oneself out, but not with Fetzko.

"In my opinion, it's one of the most challenging sports out there because it's all year-round, and we put so much time in at practice," Fetzko said. "But the big thing that I love about it is that you can see your times drop after putting in all this time. Plus winning is one of the best feelings ever. And it's a team environment, so it's great to succeed with all of them."

When not in the pool, Fetzko rarely has time for much outside of schoolwork, but she's not one to complain. However, she has a great interest in exercise science, which developed from a shoulder surgery as a sophomore, which happened to pull her in that direction.

"That surgery really pushed me in that direction because of all the people that I had to work with," Fetzko said. "I got to work with a trainer, a physical therapist and a nutritionist, so doing that really showed me the importance of all of that. I think it would be really fun to help athletes down the road, whether that's on the physical therapy side, the training or the nutrition. Something along those lines is what I want to do later on in life."

Fortunately for Fetzko, she'll be heading to the right place for college as the senior is closing in on signing with the University of Hawaii to swim for the Rainbow Warriors at the Division I level.

"I haven't committed there yet, but I have a recruiting trip coming up in April, so once that happens I'm sure I'll be pretty set on going there," Fetzko said. "Their swim team is absolutely amazing, and it's Hawaii. Everything there is totally different from what I've grown up with here, so I'm excited to try something new."

The hard work in the pool and in the classroom has certainly paid off for the Glenwood senior.