Steamboat girls swim team opens practice this week |

Steamboat girls swim team opens practice this week

Much of the early season rosters for Steamboat Springs High School's new swim teams are made up of Old Town Hot Springs club team members. Coaches Chris Schenck and Liz Doby will lead both squads.

— Now that the Steamboat Springs School Board has given the nod to go forth with implementing official swim teams at the high school, the process now is full speed ahead.

The girls team season opens this week and the boys will be in the spring. Monday marks the first practice for the Sailors girls at Old Town Hot Springs.

Since approval was granted Nov. 11, Hot Springs Program Director Jill Ruppel — who spearheaded the push for Sailors swim — has been scrambling to throw together a practice and season schedule.

Ruppel also put together a parent meeting. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the high school. There, parents will get information on registration and fees as well as meet the two newly appointed coaches, Chris Schenck and Liz Doby.

The biggest concern during the School Board’s approval process was funding the program. The first year, parents will be shouldering 100 percent of team costs, which don’t include the donor-covered facility-use fees.

“The (parent) fee will be based on how many kids actually show up,” Ruppel said. “We’re thinking between $300 and $600 for the season. The higher the number of athletes, the less it will cost.”

Those dollar projections are based on Ruppel’s current Hot Springs club rosters, for which she is head coach. Right now, boys team fees are higher because of their lower projected numbers. She is confident participation will rise once seasons begin.

Ruppel also said fundraising opportunities are in the works and the Steamboat Booster Club has received the swim teams “with open arms.”

The girls team practice schedule has athletes practicing from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Part of the perk of using the Hot Springs, Ruppel said, is the dryland training Sailors will get Tuesday mornings at 6 a.m. with personal trainer Marietta Roberts.

“It’s phenomenal cross training,” Ruppel said. “It aids almost every sport that’s out there. Swimming works every muscle in your body. People think of it as an individual sport, yet you are part of a team. Individual points go toward team points.”

The Sailors coaches will operate in a shared role to help them accommodate practice and meet schedules with their daily work life. The duo will coach both high school teams, as well as keep their current positions with the Hot Springs club team.

Ruppel will work as a liaison between the club and high school teams and offer any advice during the program’s inaugural stages.

“I’m their person to bounce questions off of,” Ruppel said. “But with that said, they have autonomy. They will report straight to Luke. I think that’s the best way.”

The girls’ first meet is Dec. 7 at Moffat County. It’s the beginning stages of a months-long process, but Ruppel said she couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.

“This is a major step, and I can’t thank the School Board, Luke DeWolfe and Superintendent (Brad) Meeks enough,” she said.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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