Team splashes to victory |

Team splashes to victory

Swimmers win Craig meet

Steamboat Springs swim team coach Essi Kenttala is seeing orange.

After spending two hours marking July 8 and 9 meet results with an orange highlighter, Kenttala couldn’t believe her eyes.

Steamboat’s girls scored 3,499.5 points, nearly three times as many points as runner-up Rangely scored. Steamboat’s boys scored 1,868 points, which was just 31.5 points behind the Rangely boys.

The more than 80 Steamboat swimmers taking part in the 11-team meet, won easily with a total score of 5,367.5 points.

“There were heats that were just black and gold,” Kenttala said, referring to the colors of the swimsuits worn by Steamboat swimmers.

The Steamboat team, which goes by the nickname Team Lightning, took advantage of Craig’s ABC meet. Swimmers of all ability levels, including first-time competitors, took part in the two-day meet.

“We started at 6:30 in the morning and finished at 5:30 at night both days,” Kenttala said.

The size of the meet, coupled with Steamboat’s impressive results, was seen in the number of medals and ribbons awarded Friday.

“It took (assistant coach) Patti Worsley seven hours to sort through the results,” Kenttala said.

In past years, qualifying for the Western Slope Championships, the Summer Festival and the 8-and-Under Festival was something accomplished by only a few Steamboat swimmers.

This year, Kenttala paged through her stacks of results and laughed.

“Basically the whole team qualified for the Western Slope (Championships), so we have a little less than 50 kids going to Aspen,” she said.

Eight Steamboat swimmers finished among the top three in their age divisions, led by Cole Worsley, who won the open division, and Frank Ruppel, who won the 8-and-younger division. Ruppel’s teammates Joseph Borgerding and Kane Park also finished on the podium in the 8-and-younger division.

Clare Cohen, Maddie Ruppel, Amy Brodie and Emma Lichtenfels also scored high as individuals.

In addition to the high points finishers, three relays — 11- and 12-year-old girls 200-meter medley, 9- and 10-year-old girls 200 medley and 9- and 10-year-old girls 200 freestyle — qualified for the Junior Olympics. Twelve swimmers ages 8 and younger qualified for the 8-and-Under Festival, the equivalent of the Junior Olympics for younger swimmers.

“Our power is in the 8-and-under, which is great for our future,” Kenttala said. “All the coaches are doing a great job.”

Steamboat’s next swim meet is the Western Slope Championships next weekend in Aspen.

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