Swim team wins meet, prepares for Slope championships

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A group of 78 swimmers from Steamboat Springs Team Lightning, the local summer youth swim club, won another meet last weekend in Craig. The team will compete next at the Western Slope Championships from July 20 to 22 in Rangely.

— The yellow-and-black-outfitted "bumblebees" from Team Lightning, Steamboat Springs' massive youth summer swim club, swarmed to another win last weekend in Craig.

"There were 11 other teams there and we encouraged all our kids to go, so we were everywhere - the next biggest team was probably half as big as us," coach Essi Kenttala said about her 78 swimmers. "We had five relay teams - A, B, C, D and E - for our 9-10 girls, where some teams struggled just to get one."

In some events, such as the 50-meter freestyle, Steamboat's 19 entrants filled half the field.

Steamboat also filled up leader boards in age division point lists, with the following four swimmers scoring the highest points for their divisions: Amy Brodie (13-14 girls), Penn Lukens (11-12 boys), Keala Fraioli (7-8 girls) and Frank Ruppel (7-8 boys).

Other notable finishers with multiple podium finishes included: Amy Brodie, Brooke Buchanan, Jack Craig, Lyta Foulk, Clare Franklin, Charlie Harrington, Alta Kaster, Emma, Margaret and Michelle Lichtenfels, Grant McNamara, Lucy Newman, Finn, Meg and Kathleen O'Connell, Wesley Park, Kelsey Pierson, Cara and Haley Piske, Mallory Richey, Piper Rillos, Olivia Rose and Katie Ross, Samantha Terranova and Zeb Tipton.

Many of these swimmers who scored to help Steamboat up the point rankings were part of the Lightning's development training team for children ages eight and younger.

"They all did their technique work, and that's what our goal is right now - not so much fast swimming as smart swimming and learning the basics," training coach Jill Ruppel said of her squad of nearly 20 young swimmers. "They did awesome."

Kenttala also pointed out that the four relay teams (13-14 girls, 400 medley and 400 free; 9-10 girls, 200 medley and 200 free) that posted fast enough times to qualify for the Junior Olympic state championships July 26 to 30 in Grand Junction.

"It's not just summer clubs, but the best of the best from every corner of the state," Kenttala said of the championships that she has eight swimmers qualified for.

Although only this select group will compete for a state title (the summer club championships are in Lamar this year and Steamboat will not attend), much of Team Lightning's swimmers (68 qualified) will have their seasons culminate with the Western Slope Championships from July 20 to 22 in Rangely.

"We're totally focused on shaping up and tapering our workouts for Rangely," Kenttala said, crediting the parents, coaches and support from Old Town Hot Springs for fostering an energetic team she hopes will make an impact at the meet.

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