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New swim coach gets feet wet

Jeff CaspersenGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kelley Cox
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Demonstrating proper butterfly technique and dishing out pointers to sophomore Luke Johnson at a Monday practice, Keith Giezentanner looked like an old pro at this coaching thing.Turns out, the new Glenwood Springs High School boys swim coach had only been at it for a week. But he long ago entered preparation mode.”The last time I talked to him he had three books on swimming,” said Howard Jay, the man Giezentanner is charged with replacing at the helm of the high school program.Replacing Jay – a coaching fixture in the Glenwood Springs’ youth swim scene for the past 20 years – is no enviable task. Giezentanner doesn’t dance around the fact he has some big shoes to fill.”(Jay’s) kind of a local legend. I’m sure I can’t fill ’em, even though my feet are bigger than his,” he quipped. “I’m just going to try to do what I can to keep the tradition he started.”Jay isn’t worried.

“He’s going to do a tremendous job,” the longtime Sopris Barracudas coach and Glenwood Springs frontman the past few seasons said. “He’s done really well getting along with the kids. … As to be expected, he’s a little nervous, but everything will be fine.”As an involved parent with a son on the team, Giezentanner did his best to sponge up whatever coaching knowledge he could from Jay last year. He’s also leaned on the tutelage of Glenwood girls coach Michelle Brune, to whom he has lent a helping coaching hand of late. Giezentanner, whose technical swimming experience is limited – he’s swum masters meets and been an official – is happy to have so much coaching experience a phone call or two away.”(Jay) said he will be able to help some,” he said. “I’ve also been assisting with the girls team and Michelle Brune and she’s offered to help a little.”Giezentanner has been a homework junkie, though, studying up to combat his lack of technical experience. He wants to be more than just a warm body leading the swim team.”We’ve got good swimmers, and I’ll be putting in a lot of time and effort,” he said. “I’ll make sure that they have the support they need.”Glenwood Springs Athletic Director Steve Cable believes in his choice to replace Jay.”I just think (Giezentanner’s) a quality person,” he said. “He’s stepping in not to make his name as a swim coach, but to help these kids. A lot of people don’t want to step into a program and he’s willing to step right in. He’s in it for the kids and wants to be the best he can.”

One-on-one attention won’t be a problem for this year’s team, and rarely is at Glenwood. On par with recent seasons, the Demons will field a team of seven when the season begins with the March 10 Grand Junction Relays.”We’re a small team, so we won’t have the depth to compete against teams of 25 to 30, but we have some good individual swimmers,” Giezentanner said.Glenwood returns six swimmers from last year’s team – sophomore Raphael Joly (Vail Christian), junior Alex Moore, junior George Keeper (Rifle), senior Patrick Kramer, senior Bryce McDermott and senior Jamie Giezentanner, the coach’s son.The lone newcomer is Luke Johnson, a sophomore who swam with the local club team until seventh grade and is making a return to the pool.A talented – if small – group of swimmers has coach Giezentanner optimistic.”We’d like to see more swimmers, but it’s about quality, not quantity,” he said. “These are very strong swimmers.”


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