Steamboat Springs A summer full of 6:30 a.m. workouts paid off for the Steamboat Springs Swim Club.
Before boarding a plane Wednesday for a five-week trip to Finland, swim coach Essi Kenttala looked back on what she said was the most successful season she has had in her seven years coaching.
"We're finally ranking well in the state, and we can say we're the fourth best," Kenttala said about the team's fourth place overall finish last weekend at the seasonal state swimming championships. Twenty-four teams competed in the event.
From a swim team that Kenttala said attracts more than 107 children to practices, 32 swimmers competed at the championships, resulting in 21 podium finishes.
Of the top Steamboat finishers, Amy Brodie took first in the 11-12 girls 50-meter backstroke on her way to a fourth-place overall finish, and Emma Lichtenfels won the 13-14 girls 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events, earning sixth in overall points.
Steamboat's 12-and-under girl's relay teams dominated the 200-meter relay events, winning the medley and establishing a new state record in the freestyle relay.
Kenttala also pointed to the success of the team at the Western Slope League Championships on July 22 and 23 in Aspen as a definite highlight of the season.
"We basically cleaned the table wherever we went," Kenttala said. She sais she was pleased with the young talent, and they should continue to improve in the years ahead.
"We have very powerful 8-and-under kids with a very bright future," she said.
Kenttala said she thought what helped make much of the difference this season was the assistance of the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center, which provided more room and swimming lanes for the growing program.
At the team's season-ending party Tuesday night, the following swimmers were awarded Swimmer of the Summer sportsmanship awards: 8-and-under, Finn O'Connell and Margaret Lichtenfels; 9-10, Marlee Loomis; 11-12, Amy Brodie; 13-14, Emma Lichtenfels; 15-18, Brittany Long, Cole Worsley and Cody Poirot.
The top season point scorers were: 8-and-under, Finn O'Connell and Keala Fraioli; and 9-and-up, Emma Lichtenfels and Cole Worsley.
Fall practices will start Aug. 28 at the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center. Kenttala invites any children who want to train and improve their techniques.
She said she hopes to carry the momentum from a successful season into the winter months, when it is difficult to maintain enthusiasm for the sport without an indoor pool.