Demons swim team overcomes scheduling challenges, preps for league championships |

Demons swim team overcomes scheduling challenges, preps for league championships

Demons senior Shea Card swims the breaststroke leg of his 200 Individual Medley event in a recent dual meet with District 51 schools at Colorado Mesa University.
Provided photo

Flying under the radar in this elongated high school sports Season D in the shadow of baseball, lacrosse, girls soccer, track and the like has been the Glenwood Springs High School boys swimming team.

But that doesn’t mean the Demons program, which draws athletes from multiple area high schools, hasn’t been turning some heads.

Despite an abbreviated meet schedule complicated by lingering pandemic impacts, the Demons enter Friday’s 4A Western Slope League Championships in Grand Junction as the heavy favorites to win their first league title in nearly a decade.

Glenwood boasts a 4-0 meet record, with wins over all of the teams that will be represented at the league meet, including Grand Junction, Fruita Monument and Montrose.

“After missing the 2020 season last year due to COVID, our team has been very focused on trying to make this season as normal as possible,” head coach Steve Vanderhoof said.

Still, the team encountered some challenges, as two of the usual league high schools were not able to organize teams, thus limiting the Demons’ ability to compete, he said.

Glenwood Springs originally scheduled a triangle meet in Thornton versus two 5A teams to try to round things out.

“Unfortunately, at the last minute we were uninvited due to some lingering COVID restrictions at that host pool,” Vanderhoof said.

In spite of it all, the Demons anticipate qualifying 10 of their 18 team members for the June 25 4A State Championships in Thornton, including representatives in all eight individual events and three relays.

Fourteen of the Glenwood swim team members come from six different area high schools in both the Roaring Fork and Eagle river valleys. The other four team members are being home-schooled, Vanderhoof noted.

The Demons are led by three seniors, including recent Glenwood Springs High School graduate Aeson Akins, who plans to continue swimming competitively at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., following state championships.

Akins is currently ranked eighth in the state among 4A swimmers in the 100 backstroke with a qualifying time of 54.51 seconds, and is 26th in the 100 butterfly at 56.85 seconds.

The top 30 competitors in each individual event or relay qualify for the state meet.

Also meeting the qualifying standard for the Demons headed into the final weekend of competition before state is Basalt High School graduate Shea Card, who plans to go on to swim for Division III National Champion Denison University.

Card is currently ranked fourth in the 100 backstroke with a season-best time of 53.76, and is 15th in the 100 fly at 55.18 seconds. He will also swim the 200 IM (ninth, 2:02.05). Teammate Charlie Kiddoo, who just graduated from Battle Mountain High School, will be swimming for Gettysburg College. Kiddoo is set to swim the 100 butterfly (ninth, 53.85) at state, and possibly the 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle if he can lower his times this weekend.

Glenwood Springs has several other swimmers meeting the state qualifying standard, including junior Quinn MacPherson in multiple events.

The Demons expect to take all three of their relay teams to the state championship meet.

Glenwood is currently ranked second in the 200 Medley Relay (Akins, Card, Kiddoo and Max Bradbury), 1:39.67; fifth in the 200 Free Relay (Kiddoo, MacPherson, Bradbury, Card), 1:32.93; and fifth in the 400 Free Relay (Kiddoo, MacPherson, Card and Tanner Esty), 3:24.68.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or

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