Steamboat Springs It's not the last swim meet of the season, but for the six Steamboat Springs swimmers traveling to Colorado Springs Thursday, the Junior Olympic Championships will most likely be the biggest.
"It's my fifth year to go to the Junior Olympics," Steamboat Springs swimmer Korie Steitz said. "It's a lot of fun. It's a nice facility and all of the swimmers there are the fastest in the state."
Steitz is one of four swimmers to qualify for the meet as part of the individual medley relay team. Steitz will swim the backstroke leg, teammate Heather Whiting will swim the breaststroke leg, Hannah Gary is scheduled to swim the freestyle leg and Tina Roberts will compete in the butterfly leg.
The team just qualified for the meet at the Western Slope Championships in Montrose last week.
"We all had a goal of dropping two seconds in the race and we ended up dropping 20 seconds," Steitz said.
Her team has made a tradition of traveling to the Junior Olympic Championships. The core of the group, which includes Whiting, Roberts and Steitz, has been making the trip for the last five years.
"It's really nice to go to the Junior Olympics as part of a team," Whiting said. "Normally you are all by yourself it's a lot more fun to go with friends."
Whiting also qualified to compete in individual events: the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke, and the 200-meter butterfly.
Whiting's biggest goal this weekend isn't winning a Junior Olympic medal, even though that would be nice. She will be most focused this weekend on meeting the qualifying time in one of her events for the Zone Championships that will come up later this year. She has been close to that elusive mark in several meets this season, but just missed.
"This could be the week," Whiting said. "There are a lot of fast swimmers at the Junior Olympics and they should really push me."
Other individual swimmers who will travel to and compete in this week's Junior Olympic Championships are 10-year-old Kyle Steitz and 12-year-old Blake Worsley. Steamboat's Meghan Sabin also made the cut, but has decided to skip the meet since she has to go back the Colorado State University and her college swim team soon.
Steitz will be headed to his first Junior Olympic Championships to swim in the 200-meter freestyle and the 100-meter breaststroke.
While it is his first trip to the swimming championships, he has been on the sidelines plenty of times watching his sister, Korie, compete and feels like he knows what to expect.
"Sure there are going to be a lot of really good swimmers," Kyle Steitz said. "But I'll just go there, do my best and see what happens."
Steitz said he is shooting for a top-three finish, but he knows that will be a tough goal to reach against the state's best young swimmers.
Worsley also made his qualifying time at the Western Slope Championships last week. He will compete in the 50-meter freestyle event in Colorado Springs and also will be hoping for a top finish.
"A lot of these swimmers (competing in the Junior Olympics) come out of a year-round program," Steamboat swim coach Essi Kentalla said. "So it's going to be tough on our swimmers. It will also be my first Junior Olympics, so I'm not sure what to expect either."
While the six swimmers are competing in Colorado Springs, the coach's younger unit will head to Broomfield for the 8-and-under Festival. Swimmers younger than 9 years old cannot compete at the Junior Olympics, so the 8-and-under Festival is the state championship for the younger class.
Steamboat will send eight swimmers to that event, including Courtney Garth, who will swim in the 25-meter breaststroke, 25-meter free, 25-meter butterfly and the 100-meter individual medley; Charlotte Letson in the 25-meter breaststroke; Molly Newman in the 25-meter freestyle and 25-meter breast; Madeleine Sabin in the 100-meter freestyle, 25-meter freestyle, 25-meter breaststroke and 50-meter freestyle; Emmy Lichtenfels in the 25-meter breaststroke; Cameron Osteen in the 25-meter breaststroke, Emily Birch in the 25-meter freestyle, 25-meter butterfly, 100-meter individual medley; and Connor Birch in the 25-meter freestyle event. That event will be today in Broomfield.
The Steamboat swim team's final post-season meet will come on Aug. 4-6 in Arvada as nine local swimmers take part in the Silver State Championships.
To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org