Junior Olympians

Three more swimmers qualify for big meet next month

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— The list of Steamboat swimmers headed to the Junior Olympics next month is getting longer.

Steamboat, which will travel to its fifth meet of the season at Rifle this weekend, has eight swimmers already qualified for the Junior Olympics.

In Grand Junction last weekend, Tina Roberts, Hestia Chase and Korie Steitz became the latest team members to make the Junior Olympics.

They qualified in the girls 13-and-over 400 medley relay, along with Heather Whiting who qualified for the Junior Olympics earlier this year in four additional events.

"It was a total surprise," Steitz said.

"After the end of the day, we were all tired and we didn't think we would get it."

Christy Warner, Steamboat assistant coach, said the girls relay team made its qualifying time under a scorching sun.

They finished the race in five minutes and 28.50 seconds.

Temperatures were over 100 degrees in Grand Junction Sunday, Warner said.

The girls relay team will head to Colorado Springs at the end of July to compete in the Junior Olympics, which are the state championships.

Essi Kenttala, head coach, said Whiting is just nine seconds away in her 200 breaststroke from potentially qualifying for the Zone Championships in Hawaii. The Zone Championships are a step up from the Junior Olympics, Kenttala said.

To make it to the Hawaii meet, a swimmer must post Zone qualifying times in two events while also finishing in the top three in the state in one of those events, Kenttala said.

Whiting is halfway there. She qualified last weekend in the 100 breast. Whiting says it will be a difficult task to make it to the Zone in August, but says her technique is coming around. She attended a camp at Stanford University this past summer, where a group of coaches helped her with her swim stroke, she said.

"Before, I was flat in the water when I swam," she said. "Now, I'm more in a dolphin movement."

Whiting was one of a number of Steamboat swimmers who fared well in Grand Junction.

Three Steamboat swimmers were high-point winners, Kenttala said.

Charlie Stoddard, Tina Roberts and Paul Rose each won age divisions at the Grand Junction meet.

Rose, who is in the boys 11-12 division, came away with four first-place finishes and two second-place finishes to guide him to the high-point win.

Roberts won five of six events on her way to winning high point.

Rose said Steamboat put together an impressive performance considering it had fewer than 20 swimmers on the trip.

Kenttala expects 18 local swimmers to compete in Rifle this weekend. There are about 70 individuals on the Steamboat swim team.

Stoddard, who won four of five events in Grand Junction, qualified for the Junior Olympics during the meet in the 100 butterfly.

Earlier this season, Stoddard and three of his teammates qualified for the Junior Olympics in the boys 9-10 medley relay.

Steamboat will compete at the Art Dague Pool and Slide beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday.

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