Steamboat Springs Having to compete against teams able to train year-round has not been easy for Steamboat Springs' summer youth swim team. But despite the apparent disadvantage, Steamboat had an impressive showing last weekend at the Western Slope League Championships in Aspen, placing fourth overall in a field of 15 teams.
With 45 swimmers competing, Steamboat came home with eight race wins and 18 podium finishes, and the girls team finished third behind Durango and Montrose.
Head coach Essi Kenttala said there are 107 kids participating in the youth summer swim program, practicing "only three months a year," anywhere from two to five mornings a week at the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center.
"We have a lot of kids coming up," Kenttala said about the emerging local talent.
In the eight-and-under divisions, Kane Park, Frank Ruppel and Finn O'Connell took first-place in their respective races and also set pool records.
Kenttala said the U-8 boy's would have won their race and set a record for their freestyle relay, but there was an electrical problem with the timing system.
There was no controversy for the U-8 girls. The relay team of Kathleen O'Connell, Claire Cohen, Keala Fraioli and Margaret Lichtenfels won and set pool records in the freestyle and medley races, catapulting the U-8 Steamboat swim team to a Western Slope championship title win.
"There were nine boys and nine girls, and they have just been awesome," U-8 coach Trish O'Connell said. "The kids work so well as a team. They stand by the side of the pool and root -- screaming -- for one another. It's a privilege to be their coach."
On the 18-and-under side of the Aspen championships, Alyssa Pierson won the 200-meter fly, and Cole Worsley won the 100 fly.
Worsley, along with Emma Lichtenfels, who took second last weekend in the 13-14 division's 100 and 200 breaststroke races, will compete in the Colorado Swimming Long Course State Championships, which began Thursday in Fort Collins and continue through Sunday.
Steamboat's next meet is the Summer Club Championships in Craig, Aug. 4-6, in which 32 Steamboat swimmers will compete.