Lightning strikes again

Swimming standouts qualify for Silver State, Junior Olympics

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— Fielding a team of just 13 swimmers, the Steamboat Springs boys Team Lightning captured the title at the Sopris swim meet held over the weekend near Carbondale.

The girls team posted a strong No. 2 final placing as well for Steamboat. Overall, Team Lightning finished second.

"We were very excited," head coach Essi Kenttala said. "A lot of the teams were year-round programs so to beat them was great."

Highlighting the meet once again was the performance of Patrick Weston, 8, who for the third straight meet, finished as the top scorer in his eight-and-under age division, winning the 25-yard freestyle, 25-yard breaststroke, 25-yard butterfly, 50-yard breaststroke and 100-meter individual medley. He provisionally qualified for a festival for swimmers aged 8 and younger or Silver State, a top-flight competition held one week after Junior Olympics (in all five events).

"Lane four was my lucky lane," Weston said with a smile.

Weston, however, will turn nine before the meet so he can't compete in the Festival. Steamboat participants who did qualify and can compete in the Estes Park event for younger swimmers are Summer Smalley, 25 freestyle, 25 backstroke, 50 freestyle, 25 breaststroke, and 100 individual medley; Lexie Baden, 25 fly; Lucy Newman, 25 breaststroke, 25 free and 50 free; and Gracey Whelihan, 25 backstroke, 50 free and 25 breaststroke.

Several older swimmers also fared well in the meet.

Qualifying for the Junior Olympics in the 9-10 division was Cameron Osteen in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:42.54.

Charlie Stoddard qualified for the Junior Olympics in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:29.16, as well as the 200 freestyle relay along with team members Cole Worsley, Michael Weston and Kyle Steitz. The relay finished in 2:26.77 to earn a trip to the meet in Grand Junction later this summer.

In addition to Junior Olympic times, a slew of Steamboat swimmers posted times worthy of either the upcoming Western Slope Championships or Silver State. Kenttala said 49 times met the Western Slope cut-off point, while 48 separate times met the Silver State standards.

"That is pretty awesome," Kenttala said. "All the coaches are doing such a great job."

Kenttala said this is the highest number of provisional qualifiers she has had since becoming the swim coach several years ago. In addition to her coaching and that of her assistants, she believed the core strength training now being taught to the swimmers is paying dividends.

Kenttala likened her core strength regimen to putting an appropriate transmission in a car like a Porsche. Without the smooth internal workings, the outside just looks nice. Likewise with her swimmers.

They may have the technique down and look like successful swimmers but if they don't have the strength within their core muscles they will not reach optimum levels. Kenttala feels those levels are starting to be exhibited, and the swimmers have not begun to taper their training yet, which leaves her optimistic.

Team Lightning will look to continue their successful summer season at the upcoming meet in Meeker this weekend. The three-day met begins Friday and runs through Sunday. Kenttala expected nearly 40 swimmers to make the journey to Meeker and represent Steamboat.

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