Barracudas dive in at Glenwood Springs Community Center |

Barracudas dive in at Glenwood Springs Community Center

Joelle Milholm
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” In thick red and blue lettering, the phrase ‘Release the Beast’ was written across Nick Lippman’s back. When the 10-year-old Sopris Barracuda swimmer got in the water during day two of the Sopris Barracudas Invitational on Saturday at the Glenwood Springs Community Center, he did just that.

Through two of his five events Lippman qualified for the Western Slope League Championships to be held July 18-20 in Grand Junction by placing 14th in the huge field of boys 9- to 10-year-old 100-meter freestyle swimmers.

“It is going pretty well. I took off 9 seconds on my 100 free,” he said.

Lippman wasn’t the only Barracuda to make a splash at the meet as all of his teammates where posting fast times and hitting WSL Championship qualifying marks.

The Sopris swimmers were doing so well that even just through Saturday morning they had recorded a number of top finishes.

The Barracudas swept the top three spots of the girls 13-14 400 individual medley with Ashley Roper taking first with a time of 6:08.77 and Keevyn Scholl and Kelly Cassidy behind her in second and third.

Charlie Mechling and Lily Thorsen had each picked up two wins, with Mechling taking first in the girls 9-10 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly and Thorsen following suit in the girls 11-12 100 and 800 freestyle.

Zeb Thorsen swam the fastest in the boys 9-10 100 butterfly and Patrick Gucwa was victorious in the boys 11-12 100 free. Jack Cassidy not only raced to a win in the boys 11-12 800 free with a 12:00.82 mark, but swam so fast he shaved 48 seconds off his seeded time.

And they did all that through only two sessions of the five-session meet that started Friday evening and will go through this afternoon.

The Barracudas spend a large chunk of their summer swim season on the road, and Lippman admitted that being in their home water was advantageous.

“It is fun. It gives us a more of a competitive edge because we know what the walls are like and how slippery they are,” he said.

The annual Sopris Barracudas Invite, which is in its 37th year, is playing host to 260 swimmers and parents from the Sopris Barracudas, Steamboat Springs, Delta, Grand Junction, Aspen, Gunnison, Rangely, Craig and Montrose. The large mass of people covered the Community Center on Saturday. Some had staked claims on areas in the gym, others were alongside the pool and even more were in the kids pool ” which was drained to accommodate the spectators and swimmers.

Even the back section of the parking lot at the Community Center was roped off for camping and filled with a dozen RVs and a handful of tents. The scene is a regular one at swim meets everywhere, and on Saturday morning Delta swimmers Bryn Marah, 13, and Michael Barnosay, 14, were sitting outside their parents’ RV playing cards and waiting for their turn to swim.

“So far this year, we have gone to Cortez, Aspen and here,” said Marah, the girls 13-14 800 freestyle champion. “We are used to traveling by RV.”

Normally Lippman and his family are camping themselves. Not this time, however ” that’s the luxury of hosting a meet. There was one downside in Lippman’s eyes, though.

“This is actually the earliest we’ve had to get to a meet,” Lippman said. “We had to be here at 6:20 a.m.”

Back inside the Community Center at the pool, swimmers and spectators didn’t seem to be bothered by the large crowd. Some kids played cards, took naps or just talked with friends while waiting for their events. With the speakers blasting tunes throughout the meet, many even felt compelled to dance to songs like M.C. Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This.”

The fun-loving but still competitive atmosphere carried into the afternoon session and is sure to continue into today. Competition will pick back up at 8 a.m. today and then wrap up with an afternoon session beginning at 1 p.m.

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