Glenwood Springs swim team preparing for season |

Glenwood Springs swim team preparing for season

Joelle Milholm
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kelley Cox

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” With experienced veterans and talented newcomers, the Glenwood Springs swimming and diving team is hoping to make a splash this season.

Glenwood may have lost its only state medalist in history in Emily McDonald, who won the Class 4A 2006 50- and 100-yard freestyle titles and is now swimming for Middlebury College in Vermont, but almost 20 swimmers and divers have hit the water to make up the 2007-08 Demon squad.

“We have 20 girls this year, which is much bigger than last year, which is awesome,” said head coach Michelle Brune, who is starting her third season at the helm of the Demons’ program.

Leading the team will be senior captains Ali Schaiberger and Kerry Rippy, and diving captain Jessica Betts. Fellow senior Kendra Mangerian and junior Sierra Grove, a Coal Ridge High School student, will also look to step up for the team, which practices each morning before the sun comes up at the Glenwood Springs Community Center pool.

“Sierra is definitely our top as far as state-placement potential,” Brune said. “Although Ali is so hard-core and driven, and she’s gotten a 17th in the 500 two years in a row, this is the year we want to get her above 17. She has got a lot of potential this year.

Grove, who has qualified for state her freshman and sophomore years, has her sights set on getting there again.

“I have a lot of goals this season (one of which is) just take as much time off as I can,” Grove said.

Outside of the top returners, Brune is hoping that some of the freshmen can contribute to the Demons’ success as well.

“I have got two freshmen that are fantastic and come from the (Sopris) Barracudas ” Clara Thorsen and Keevan Scholl,” she said. “So I am excited to see what they do. They have been Barracuda swimmers for a while and they have a lot of potential.”

The Demons’ bigger squad also got its numbers boosted by a handful of swimmers who are new to the sport. Some are sophomores and some are even juniors like state cross country and track runner Melissa Buchanan.

“We’ve got a group of new swimmers, but they are already showing a lot of potential,” Brune said.

Betts will be leading the diving squad, as the only fully experienced diver on the squad. The senior has dove her whole career at Glenwood, and also swam backstroke individually and in relays. A few underclassmen have shown interest in diving and Demon diving coach Patty Shaffner is showing them to the ropes.

“We have a lot of beginners. We’ve got Jessica, I’ve got several girls who want to dive,” said Shaffner, a former Colorado State University diver. “There’s Anna Wiltse, she dove with us a little last year, so she’ll dive this year, but it’s hard because she is one of our stronger swimmers. Then I have four gals who are just learning, so we’ll see.”

Shaffner is used to starting from the beginning with divers, as most of them don’t have much experience coming in.

“It’s hard because there is no feeder program,” Shaffner said.

The Demons will get their first test of the year on Saturday when they go to Grand Junction for Western Slope League Relays.

“The relay meet is really fun,” Grove said of the annual meet.

The meet helps new swimmers adjust to swimming in high school meets, while at the same time providing a laid-back welcome to the season and a chance for teams to bond through relays.

“It is awesome for the new swimmers because they get used to doing it,” Brune said. “They get used to the nervousness, they get used to performing, but they have that team there.”

The Demon swimmers, as well as the divers, who don’t compete in the WSL Relays, will have their first dual meet of the season on Dec. 7 at Aspen.

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