Gucwa shoots for medal |

Gucwa shoots for medal

Post Independent Photo/Kara K. PearsonDamian Gucwa practices his starts at the Glenwood Springs Community Center during the Glenwood boys swim practice Thursday morning. Gucwa heads to the Class 4A state meet in Loveland this weekend.

Damian Gucwa is looking for a breakout performance in the final prep swim meet of his prep career. The Glenwood Springs senior was on the cusp of a top-three finish at last year’s state meet and would like to end Saturday’s finals on the podium.A top-eight time from any of the four Demons swimmers who qualified to swim in Friday’s preliminaries of the Class 4A state swim championships at Mountain View High School in Loveland will put them in a position to earn a state medal at Saturday’s finals. It’s a goal Gucwa has been aiming at for three years.

Bringing back a state medal would be a nice sendoff before heading east this summer as a college swimmer at Division III New York University.At last year’s swim finals, Gucwa finished fourth in the 100-yard butterfly and fifth in the breaststroke. And Demons coach Howard Jay said Gucwa “definitely has a shot of moving up in both events.” this year.In the breaststroke, Gucwa has the fourth-best time this season of the 19 qualifiers. His season-best time of 1 minute, 3.88 seconds compares well against the other top swimmers in the event.Josh Gregory of nearby Thompson Valley is just ahead at 1:03.34. Sam Shook, another Thompson Valley swimmer, has posted the state’s fastest 4A time going into the prelims at 1:00.20. Additional challenges could come from Clay Myers of Ralston Valley and Broomfield’s Kellan Turney. Myers clocked a best of 1:02.29 this season. Turney comes in at 1:03.93.”Damian is due to bust loose in the breast,” Jay said.

Gucwa said the key to a good swim for him, is not to ponder on the race or the opponents. “I really don’t want to think about it too much or I’ll mess up,” he said.”The environment (at state) is more competitive. But it doesn’t make a difference to me, I just what to be in my zone,” Gucwa said. “I don’t care what everyone else is doing.”Gucwa is also among the top five swimmers in the butterfly. His 54.85-second time is .04 behind the time of No. 4 Paul Bunge of Broomfield and .12 seconds behinds Gregory, who also qualified in the butterfly.

Jon Banker of Pueblo Centennial has the fastest time, 51.53, going in, followed by Pat Martelli of Colorado Springs Pine Creek at 53.12.Jon Jay of the Demons also competes in two individual events. He will line up against 21 other competitors in Friday’s 200-yard freestyle prelims, then match strokes with 25 swimmers in the 500 freestyle.Jay and Gucwa also will team with Bryce McDermott and Jaime Giezentanner for the medley and 400 free relay.The Demons have a season-best time of 1:54.30 in the medley relay, which boasts a field of 23 schools. Top teams in the event are Western regional champion Montrose (1:41.02), Pine Creek (1:41.64) and Thompson Valley (1:42.50).Glenwood is 13th among the 20 schools in 400 free relay prelims at 3:38.21. Cheyenne Mountain of Colorado Springs currently has the 4A’s best mark of 3:17.24, followed by Montrose (3:18.63) and Pueblo Centennial (3:20.73).Friday’s swim prelims are scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Finals are slated to begin at 5 p.m. Saturday.

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