Steamboat Springs As times drop, Essi Kenttala's smile widens.
The local swim team continues to perform well under the direction of the third-year coach, and she is particularly pleased with the results from the past two meets in Steamboat Springs and Rangely.
"Last summer we made a breakthrough," Kenttala said. "This summer looks like another one."
Steamboat Springs Team Lightning returns to the pool tonight for a weekend meet in Carbondale. With unpredictable summer schedules, Kenttala said fielding a large team has been difficult. However, she expects 50 of the nearly 75 swimmers in Steamboat's program to represent the town down in Carbondale.
"This is a very big meet," Kenttala said.
And she hopes the trend of decreasing times continues at the outdoor meet. Last weekend in Rangely, the 29 kids that did travel rallied together to finish third overall with 1,066.5 points. The girls placed fourth and the boys placed second, which surprised Kenttala, considering the team doesn't have a large contingent of male swimmers.
Leading the way for the boys was Blake Worsley, who finished first overall in his age division with 85 points and was tops in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and the 100 backstroke. His time of 56.66 in the 100 and his 25.93 in the 50 free were not only pool records but also fast enough to qualify the 14-year-old for the Junior Olympics held later this summer in Grand Junction.
"I was surprised, but I've been swimming pretty good times this year," Worsley said. "I've been trying to do some workouts on dry land to increase my strength."
His younger brother Cole, who placed third in the 11-12 male division, is two-tenths of a second away from qualifying for the Junior Olympics in the 100 free after posting 1:07.13 to finish first in Rangely.
Other top male performers from Steamboat were Patrick Weston and Kyle Steitz. In the 8-and-under division, Weston won all five races he was entered in, setting a pool record in the 25-yard butterfly with a time of 22-flat. His 96 points overall also gave him top placing in his age group.
Steitz, second in the 11-12 age division, won the 200 individual medley with a time of 3:01.88.
On the female side, several Team Lightning swimmers won events for Steamboat. Tina Roberts, 15, equaled the feat posted by Weston and won five different events. She also placed first in the 15-18 division, beating teammate Korie Steitz for the top spot by 29 points.
Kirsten Henry, 10, was victorious in the 50-yard backstroke with a time of 43.19. Hestia Chase, 14, won the 50 free in 27.97. Erica Gale won the 200 free in 2:36.28 and also anchored the 200 freestyle relay team to success and victory.
Her teammates included Michelle Lichtenfels, Iliana Chase and Brittany Long.
With a majority of the season still remaining, including several big qualification meets in July, Kenttala is optimistic improvements are still slated to be made.
"We started practicing in April, which was pretty good," she said. "The kids keep taking times off. The coaches are very happy."