Steamboat Springs swim team escapes winter, posts top results in Grand Junction

John F. Russell
Annika Fahrner makes her way across the pool in Grand Junction last weekend en route to posting top times at the MAValanche Invite.

— Editors note: This story was corrected to reflect that Annika Fahrner qualified for the 400-meter individual relay, not Kristen.

There might be snow covering the ground in Steamboat Springs, but that didn’t stop seven local swimmers from focusing on swimming last weekend at the MAValanche Invite in Grand Junction on Saturday and Sunday.

“I was impressed with the effort and fantastic performances by all the Steamboat Springs Swim Team members at this meet,” coach Patti Worsley said. “Their hard work and attention to details in their technique at practice really paid off. The team swam their hearts out; they were true competitors.”

The team got stand-out performances from Annika Fahrner and Parker Kortas who made Sectional qualifying times with the results from the Grand Junction meet.

Fahrner, 14, dropped more than a minute from her time in the mile en route to a second-place finish. Lauren Olczak, of the Colorado Athletic Club, won the race with a time of 18 minutes, 52.29 seconds. Fahrner’s time of 19:22.38 qualifies her for the senior Zone Championships in Clovis, California, in August. Fahrner also will race at the Colorado State Age Group Championships this March in Thornton.

Kortas, 14, also turned in a solid weekend racing to three state short course qualifying times, two Zone and two Sectional qualifying times. On Saturday, Kortas raced to a first-place finish in the 100-yard breast with a personal best time of 1:08.92. The result qualified her for Sectionals. On Sunday, she won the 200-yard breast with a time of 2:31.83, which also qualified her for Sectionals. Kortas will travel to Iowa City on March 12 to 16 to compete at the Central Zone Sectionals.

Jenna Smith, 11, placed first overall in her division. She finished with personal bests in all of her events and brought home first-place finishes in the 50-yard butterfly, the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard freestyle, 50-yard breaststroke, 200-yard individual medley and a second in the 50-yard back. Smith qualified for three more Junior Olympic events this year bringing her total to nine. Smith also will compete in seven events at the Colorado State Championships, which will be held March 6 to 8 in Thornton.

Steamboat also qualified a 400-yard individual medley relay team for the Colorado state meet with a time of 4:36.18. That team includes Smith, Lily Starkey, Kortas and Fahrner.

Other Steamboat swimmers posting top finishes included new part-time swimmer Mohammed Alnajdawi, 12, who made the final in all of his events placing fourth in the 50-yard butterfly with a time of 38.95. He also dropped time in most of his other events. Saige Lottes, 11, earned a fifth-place finish in the 50-yard backstroke with a time of 37.39 and also qualified for the finals in all of her events. In addition to helping her team make a state qualifying time, Starkey, who swims part-time with the club, recorded personal bests in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and the 100-yard breaststroke. Veteran swimmer Brendan Carta broke the 25 second mark with his finish in the 50-yard freestyle. His time was 24.88.

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

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