Barracudas shine at state |

Barracudas shine at state

In competitive swimming, there are no losers – only faster athletes.

Emily McDonald proved the fastest 14-year-old female swimmer in Colorado in the freestyle sprints at this weekend’s state Long Course Championships at the EPIC Ice and Aquatic Center in Fort Collins.

But McDonald and the other 10 swimmers who represented the Sopris Barracudas at the Fort Collins meet are all champions. Each athlete had to earn their way to the big show of Colorado club swimming – not an easy task.

Four Barracudas – Bobby Gucwa, Sierra Grove, Keely Roberts and McDonald – finished among the top 10 in their respective events.

The other six area swimmers missed that level by hundredths of a second.

In McDonald’s case, after swimming against older competitors in a sectional meet July 18-20 in Oregon, she was happy to compete against girls her own age. But she still had some butterflies at the state meet.

“I didn’t feel quite as nervous as I did at sectionals,” she said. “There were people I had swam against before this weekend, but it was still nerve-racking.”

Faster in finals than prelims

When McDonald hit the water, the pre-event nerves vaporized. The Glenwood Springs High School freshman advanced to the finals in four of five events.

In her first event – the 200-meter freestyle – McDonald posted a good time. Her 2 minute, 14.20 second mark would win most meets. But Brittany Martinez of the MACS swim club had the 200 meter swim of her career.

Martinez, who lost to McDonald in the prelims, clocked 2:12.87 to win the 200 gold medal.

After that race, the Front Range swimmer couldn’t come close to McDonald in the sprints.

McDonald finished No. 1 in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle, bettering her times in the championship final in both events.

She clocked a 27.77 seconds mark in the 50 and a 1:00.15 in the 100.

Both were lifetime bests.

Despite setting a career mark in the 100 free, McDonald was not totally pleased with her performance.

“I was thinking `Why didn’t I break a minute?'” she asked Monday.

That’s the one personal goal to elude McDonald this summer.

After the freestyle events were over, McDonald earned fourth place in the 100-meter butterfly on Sunday, the last day of the four-day meet.

In the final, McDonald timed in at 1:10.37, two seconds quicker than in the prelims.

Due to participating in the sectional and state meets, McDonald’s next action will be as a high school swimmer.

Top 10 finishers

Gucwa, 17, a GSHS student, set his fastest time – a 2:36.38 – in the senior boys 200-meter breaststroke prelims and reached the finals in two events.

He finished seventh in the 200-meter breast finals and took eighth overall in the finals of the 100 breaststroke.

Grove reached the 11-12 girls finals in three freestyle events.

The 12-year-old Glenwood resident finished sixth in the 100-meter free, took 12th place in the 200 freestyle and 14th in the 50-meter finals.

Keely Roberts, 10, of Aspen earned ninth place in the 50-meter breaststroke, 12th in the 9-10 year-old girls’ 50-meter backstroke and 16th in the 100-meter back.

Keely’s older sister, Alina, 17, finished 14th in the senior girls 50-meter freestyle, and 16th in the 100 and 200-meter backstroke finals.

Strong performances

In the boys 10-and-under division, Luke Jacob, 10 from Glenwood, had an 11th place swim in the 50-meter back finals and was 14th in the 100-meter freestyle.

Jacob’s teammate Craig Riggins, 12 of Glenwood just missed the 11-12 boys 50 free finals by finishing 17th.

Also in the 13-14 girls division, Barracuda Claire Noone, 14, of Glenwood Springs, advanced to the 200-meter breaststroke finals by posting a 3:05.06 prelim time.

In the finals, Noone finished 15th out of 16 swimmers.

According to the Barracudas’ schedule, most of the team will be wrapping up the season this week in meets throughout the state.

The youngest swimmers will participate in an 8-and-under festival in Palisade on Wednesday.

The older athletes will split their time at the Silver State Championships in Lakewood and the Summer Club Championship meet in Colorado Springs, which run Friday through Sunday.

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