Young Demons hold their own at 4A state swim meet
After a parade down Grand Avenue led by the Glenwood Springs Police Department, the self-funded Glenwood Springs High School boys swim team was off to Thornton for the Friday-Saturday 4A boys swim and dive state championships.
Friday’s preliminaries showcased the Demons swimming in three relays and four individual events.
Demon co-captains Jack Cassidy and Max Bryant would lead the young squad, with both swimming in two individual events and two relays.
Branden Currey got the nod for three relay spots, while Sebastian Joly and Jon Birzon swam in two relays apiece. Patrick Gucwa earned the final relay position after an incredible meet last weekend.
The Demons entered the 200-yard medley relay Friday as the 20th seed, with the top 16 returning to swim in Saturday’s finals.
Vail Christian’s Joly led off the relay with his best split of the year, going 29.61 seconds in the backstroke leg. Cassidy, a sophomore at Eagle Valley, took over the breaststroke leg with his fastest swim of the season in 28.69. The butterfly portion of the relay was manned by Aspen’s Bryant, who also swam his fastest split of the season in 24.78. The anchor leg had Vail Christian’s Currey swim a 23.68, yet again a top effort.
The Demons’ determination paid off.
The boys dropped more than three seconds from their qualifying time to earn the 13th position in Saturday’s main event and set a new team record of 1:46.96, breaking the record of 1:47.11 from 2003.
Only a sophomore, Cassidy is a veteran of the state meet. As a freshman, he swam in last year’s big show in two individual events and two relays, yet his only Saturday swim was in a relay.
The co-captain was back for redemption, embracing the opportunity at hand by finishing third in his heat, which qualified him for ninth overall, or first for the B final. He broke Chris Rey’s record of 1:51.32 from 2001 with a time of 1:50.61.
Bryant, another sophomore and state veteran, was back looking to improve on his 12th-place finish in last year’s 200 individual medley. Bryant swam well in his prelim heat, finishing second to eventual state champion Connor Dwyer from Longmont. The sophomore improved his team record set last weekend to 2:00.44 and found himself seeded sixth for Saturday’s finals.
After the conclusion of the first three events, the young Demons were looking strong – three qualifications for finals and three new team records.
Next up for the Demons was the 500 freestyle, a team specialty and co-captain favorite.
Bryant and Cassidy both ended up in heat four in the preliminaries.
The sophomores swam steady throughout, staying with the competition. Bryant finished third in 4:55.65, just shy of his team record and seed time, while Cassidy cut six seconds from his seed time to finish fourth and break the five minute barrier for the first time at 4:58.55.
Some exceptionally fast earlier heats put Cassidy in the 12th position. Bryant made the A final in seventh.
Immediately following the 500, the co-captains teamed up with Birzon, a Colorado Rocky Mountain School freshman, and Currey, a sophomore, to compete in the 200 free relay.
Bryant swam an impressive lead leg after a grueling 500. Birzon followed with a personal-best time of 25.97 to keep the boys in pursuit. Currey, Glenwood’s relay guru, added another quality swim, putting in a 24.42, and Cassidy gutted out the anchor leg in 23.12 to slice a little more than a second off the seed time and go 1:37.48 for the last qualifying position for Saturday’s B final.
Glenwood would end Friday’s prelims with Joly, Birzon and Currey swimming with Glenwood sophomore Gucwa in the 400 free relay. The young men swam best times all around, with Joly going 57.78, Birzon 59.31, Gucwa 58.78 and Currey 55.83.
With prelims complete, the young Demons had managed to qualify for finals in four individuals events and two relays while breaking three team records in the process.
The swim team entered Saturday’s finals with high spirits and hopes of bettering their times from Friday’s prelims.
The first mountain to climb was the 200 medley relay. Joly, Cassidy, Bryant and Currey put in a solid effort to swim their second fastest time of the year of 1:48.07. That effort landed them in 15th place overall.
Cassidy quickly returned to the water for the 200 free B final. The sophomore swam poised, ignoring the swimmers that went out early and concentrated on his own race.
At the 150-yard mark, it was obvious that Cassidy’s pace paid off, as he swam away from the field in the final 50 yards. The co-captain won the B final by well over a body length, improving his team record by another two seconds to 1:48.59.
The 200 individual medley featured Bryant vying for a state title. The sophomore fell behind early and found himself in eighth place with 100 yards remaining. Bryant picked up the pace on his breaststroke and found himself in a battle for places fifth through eighth. The freestyle leg came down to the touch, where Bryant found himself seventh in a time of 1:59.43 – a new team record.
The B finals of the 500 free had Cassidy trying to win his second consolation final.
The field stayed relatively close throughout the first 200 yards and then splintered. Cassidy stayed with his pacing plan and finished in the middle of the pack, swimming his second-best time of 4:58.91 to finish 13th overall.
Bryant was once again in the mix for a state title in the 500 free A final.
The sophomore co-captain kept up well in a fast heat, one in which the 4A state record was broken.
Bryant kept the blinders on and swam within himself. In the process, he dropped three seconds from his prelims time to finish sixth in a team-record time of 4:52.39.
Once again, the co-captains had to tough it out in back-to-back events. The Demons’ last event of 2012 was the 200 free relay.
Birzon and Currey joined Cassidy and Bryant for one last swim. The squad succeeded in improving its time again, with Bryant manning the anchor in 22.80. With another half second gone, the team swam a time of 1:37.06 and nabbed the 15th spot.
The Demons’ state swim team, consisting of five sophomores and one freshman, swam above all expectations. Four of six swims in finals were best times and two were new team records.
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