Steamboat Springs sisters share love of swimming, need for speed |

Steamboat Springs sisters share love of swimming, need for speed

Steamboat Springs swimmers are headed to some big end-of-season meets in the next two weeks. Those qualifying included Amanda Dietrich, coach Patti Worsley, Grace O'Reilly, Katherine Knapp, Isabella O'Reilly, Saige Lottes, Annika Fahrner, Jenna Smith, Mohammed Alnajdawi, Kelsey Bryant and coach Darcy Lascano.

— Sisters Isabella and Grace O'Reilly are two years apart in age, but when the two get in the water, the difference between them is measured in seconds.

"It's hard to be on the same team sometimes because I have to worry about her beating me," 12-year-old Isabella said. "But it's also a ton of fun."

The two sisters are part of a group of nine swimmers from Steamboat Springs who have qualified to compete in several end-of-season swim meets that will be taking place in the next couple of weeks.

Isabella and Grace will join Jenna Smith at the Colorado State Individual 14 & Under Age Group Short Course State Championships Feb. 24 to 26 in Thornton. The two sisters will also be a part of a group that will compete at the Colorado State Individual 14 & Under Short Course Silver State Championships March 3 to 5 at the University of Denver. They will be joined at that meet by teammates Mohammed Alnajdawi, Kelsey Bryant, Amanda Dietrich, Katherine Knapp and Saige Lottes.

Steamboat Springs swimmer Annika Fahrner also qualified to swim in the Colorado Senior Meet, which is scheduled for this weekend, but she elected to skip the meet after competing in the high school state championships last weekend.

"This is the biggest group of swimmers we have ever had qualify for these meets," coach Patti Worsley said. "We had 34 swimmers in our program this winter, and that's also the most we have ever had."

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She said the two sisters have pushed one another in the pool this winter. Isabella is still a bit faster, but 10-year-old Grace likes to point out that her sister is two years older than she is.

"They are both very competitive," Worsley said. "They love to race and push each other all the time. It has been really good for both of them."

Worsley understands the power of sibling rivalry after raising two boys that excelled in swimming a few years back. Both boys swam competitively in college, and Blake Worsley represented Canada in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

Worsley thinks that the two sisters can help each other reach new heights while dropping time in the pool.

"She's faster right now," Grace said of her older sister. "But I just want to be faster than she was at my age."

Isabella said her sister has only beaten her once.

“I had just finished my 100-yard butterfly, and I was exhausted," Isabella said. "I'm pretty sure that's the only time she has ever beat me."

Despite the playful banter between the two sisters, they agree it is great being on the same team.

"I have my days when I try to help her with her strokes," Isabella said. "But she normally doesn't want to hear any of it."

But Grace insists that she’s listening.

"She knows what it is like, and she can relate to the things I'm trying to do. She helps me find things that work," Grace said. "She's been where I am at right now, and she knows what it is like to swim at this level."

Getting to the Silver State and State meets was a goal shared by both of the O'Reilly girls heading into the winter season.

Isabella will compete in the 50-yard breast, 100-yard butterfly, 50-yard backstroke, 100-yard medley, 100-yard freestyle and 50-yard freestyle events at the Silver State meet. She is also slated to swim her best event, the 50-yard butterfly, at the state meet. She qualified in that event for the Silver State championship as well, but rules don't allow swimmers to compete in the same event at both the State and Silver State meets.

"I'm really hoping to drop my 50-yard butterfly below 30 at state, and I'm hoping to be in the top three in every event at the Silver State Championships," Isabella said.

Grace is slated to swim the 100-yard back, 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard freestyle and 50-yard freestyle at the Silver State Meet. She will compete in the 50-yard breaststroke, 50-yard backstroke, 100-yard breaststroke, 100-yard medley,50-yard freestyle and 50-yard butterfly at the state meet.

"I want to place in the top 10 at Silver State meet, but I’m not sure about state because they have a lot of fast swimmers there," Grace said.

Worsley said both girls thrive on competition, not only from the other swimmers in the pool, but from their own siblings. Both Isabella and Grace know they can't let their guards down because their younger sister Loisa, who is just 6, is already starting to make waves.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

Farhner posts top times

Annika Fahrner, a Steamboat Springs High School junior, recently competed at the 3A CHSAA State Championships in Thornton on behalf of the Moffat County High School girls swim team.

Fahrner swam the 100-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke, achieving her best season times in the finals of both, 57.90 seconds for the free and 1:13.82 in the breaststroke.

Farhner placed 12th in each race. This is the first time Colorado has hosted a 3A level event for girls swimming.

“It was a very successful meet for Moffat County,” said MCHS coach Meghan Francone.