Record 19 swimmers qualify for Junior Olympics

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The early morning splashes and screams coming from behind the wooden fences at the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center's pool are the sounds of the Steamboat Springs swim team.

In the pool by 7:30 a.m., many members of Team Lightning have given up a majority of their summer mornings to train. The work has paid off this season; a record 19 swimmers have qualified for this weekend's Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs, Steamboat coach Essi Kenttala said.

Three individuals and six relay teams qualified for the Junior Olympics. Not every swimmer is attending the meet, however, because of the cost and the desire to focus on a later meet, Kenttala said.

Blake Worsley, Cole Worsley and Cameron Osteen will represent Team Lightning in individual swims at this weekend's Junior Olympics.

Blake Worsley will swim the 100-meter freestyle after qualifying with a time of 57.33 seconds. The cut-off time was 57.49.

"I'm hoping to place in the top 16," Blake Worsley said. "I'm not ranked high, but our times are all close."

At 16, Worsley will be competing against swimmers as old as 20.

Cole Worsley, 13, qualified in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle. Worsley's top times this year in the events, 27.59 and 1:01.55, respectively, are nearly two seconds faster than the qualifying times.

Osteen heads to the Junior Olympics after posting a qualifying time of 1:30.08 to win the 100-meter breaststroke at last weekend's Western Slope Championships in Durango. It was the first time this season Osteen swam faster than the qualifying standard of 1:31.29. Osteen placed fifth in the 50 breaststroke, as well

"She's been getting better and better," Kenttala said. "She wanted this time."

Kristy Marshall, 15, also swam at the Western Slope Championships. She competed in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle and the 100 breaststroke.

Marshall said there were 18 teams and more than 500 swimmers in attendance at the Western Slope Championships.

"The competition was pretty tough," Osteen said. "It was about the same people we normally swim against."

Almost every member of Steamboat's competitive team qualified for the Western Slope Championships, but only two attended because of the distance to Durango. More swimmers will take part in this weekend's Junior Olympics.

Cole Worsley is teaming with Luke Hottenroth, Kyle Steitz and Michael Lamb to swim in the 200 freestyle relay in the 13 to 14 age division. Worsley, Steitz, Lamb and Michael Weston are swimming in the 200-medley relay.

Osteen qualified to swim in the 200 medley and freestyle relays with teammates Molly Newman, Emma Lichtenfels, Eva Lambek and Anissa Corser, but those teams are not competing in the Junior Olympics in the 11 to 12 division.

Swimmers Lucy Newman, Molly Dierdorff, Gracy Whelihan and Mallory Richey also qualified in the 200 freestyle relay in the 9-10 division but aren't swimming.

Also qualified but not swimming is the 13 to 14 division 200 freestyle relay team of Emily Stout, Brittany Long, Erica Gale and Michelle Lichtenfels.

Team Lightning has grown accustomed to swimming and training in a 25-meter pool, but the pool at the Junior Olympics will be 50 meters long, so the Steamboat swimmers will have to adjust, Kenttala said.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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