Swimmers off to strong summer start
Steamboat Springs — Jenna Smith isn’t new to swimming, not by a long shot.
The Steamboat Springs 11-year-old has been plying the waters at Old Town Hot Springs in downtown Steamboat for at least four years as a member of the Steamboat Springs Swim Team.
Something’s different this year, however.
Smith has emerged as one of the top swimmers in the region and helped the team to a strong start to the summer season.
“She’s really coming into her own,” Steamboat coach Patti Worsley said. “She’s coachable and really pays attention to detail.”
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Smith stole the show earlier this month at the Cuda Invitational, a huge Front Range swim meet that attracted 1,100 young swimmers. She won her races in both the 100-meter backstroke and 50-meter freestyle divisions, then the 200 backstroke, where her time of 2 minutes, 34.68 seconds ranked her fourth in the nation.
A week later, competing Saturday at a meet in Aspen, she was great again, placing first in all of her races and earning three pool records.
“She has the drive,” Worsley said. “She just has the drive to be as good as she can be. The goal at this point is to keep it fun and not make it too intense, but she has the drive.”
Smith is only part of the team’s early season splash, however. The team has 68 athletes on the roster, and many have been recording strong times.
At the Cuda Invite, Parker Kortas swam very well, placing third in the 200 breaststroke. Annika Fahrner was fifth in the 1,500 freestyle while Brooks Birkinbine, Becca Fahrner, Sean Portman and Kirstin Van Maurik all also raced well, lowering their best times.
“Annika has really come along and has become a strong distance swimmer,” Worsley said.
Competing at the Jimi Flowers Classic in Colorado Springs, Steamboat’s Kyle Taulman and Tyler Paoli accomplished that as well, swimming their fastest times of the season.
The team kept up its success at Saturday’s Aspen races.
Amanda Dietrich, swimming up a division with the 9-10 girls, was second in a pair of races, the 50 butterfly and 50 backstroke.
Mohammed Alnajdawi won the 50 fly while Jackson Bathke won his heat in the 25 backstroke. Molly Allsberry won her heat in the 100 backstroke while Annika Fahrner was second in the 200 breaststroke.
Avery Harrington won twice in Aspen, in the 100 fly and 100 breaststroke, then was second in every other race she swam.
“She had a great meet in Aspen,” Worsley said. “She goes out there and fights as hard as she can.”
Saige Lottes won the 500 freestyle and was second in the 100 free, 50 free and 50 fly.
Rylee McLouth was second in both the 200 individual medley and the 50 backstroke.
The team placed second overall and the 13- to 14-year-old girls 400-meter relay team, with Harrington, Annika Fahrner, Lily Starkey and Soria Rabanal, set the pool record for the 400-meter medley relay.
“It was great,” Worsley said. “The atmosphere is just great right now. We have a great group of coaches that are really working on technique.”
The team also competed at home Wednesday in a small team meet that served as a primer for the rest of the season.
The evening featured plenty of intra-squad racing from Steamboat’s swimmers, plus an ice cream social.
It was a big day for many of the team’s youngest and newest racers, and for parents, who got instruction on how to time events.
“The little ones swam their hearts out and had a blast,” said Darcy Lascano, coach for the Lightening and Bronze teams, the program’s youngest swimmers. “A lot started out nervous but were guided through their first meet with smiles and encouragement.”
Next up for the team is a big road trip — with more than 50 swimmers — Saturday to Craig.
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The Longevity Project event, sponsored by Steamboat Pilot & Today, has shifted from in-person to virtual. The keynote speaker Kevin Hines contracted COVID-19, and he will now be presenting his talk remotely.