It was just one trip across the length of the E.P.I.C. pool in Fort Collins, but it was the most important 50-meters of Steamboat Springs swimmer Cole Worsley's season.
"I didn't even see any of the other swimmers once I hit the water," Worsley said. "I just looked forward and swam as fast as I could."
Worsley raced across the length of the pool in 29.33 seconds to finish third at the Junior Olympic Champion-ships in the 50-meter freestyle event. It was the best finish for a Steamboat Springs swimmer and one of the best finishes in the history of Team Lightning.
"I didn't know where I had finished, but I thought that I might be second or third," Worsley said. "I was really excited when I reached the finish line. It was just a lot of fun."
The finish capped off a top season for the 12-year-old swimmer. He qualified to swim in seven events at last weekend's Junior Olympic Championships.
In addition to placing third in the freestyle, Worsley earned top-20 finishes in the 50-meter back and 100-meter freestyle events. He was 23rd in the 200-meter freestyle.
Coach Essi Kentalla said she wasn't surprised by Worsley's finishes.
"He is very strong-headed," Kentalla said. "If he sets his mind to something then he will accomplish it."
Worsley was one of 16 swimmers to compete at the meet. Worsley and Emma Lichtenfels were the only Steamboat swimmers to compete as individuals. Lichten-fels placed 18th in the 50-meter breaststroke and 30th in the 100-meter breaststroke.
Michael Weston, Connor Birch, Alex Bennett, Michelle Lichtenfels, Emily Stout, Emily Birch, Brittany Long, Cameron Osteen, Kelsey Pierson, Mary Rose, Eva Lambek, Anissa Corser, Laina Weinman and Molly Newman competed on the six Steamboat Springs relay teams that qualified for the meet.
Kentalla said the relay teams competed well but didn't place that high.
"Most of the swimmers on those teams were making their first trips to the Junior Olympics," Kentalla said. "This year was about getting experience."
Sixty-four teams competed at this year's Junior Olympic Championships with more than 1,100 swimmers.
Worsley said he was thrilled to pick up a third place finish at the meet. He said he hoped to swim this fall, but will shift his attention to hockey and skiing no matter what happens with the swim team.
The final meet of the season will take place this weekend when seven swimmers head to the Seasonal State Championships in Colorado Springs.
Kentalla said Steamboat had a lot of swimmers qualify for the club championships, which are a step below the Junior Olympics, but many of them have elected to skip the meet to go on vacation before they have to return to school.