Steamboat swimmers head to Grand Junction, Western Slope Championships

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Western Slope Championships team

Brooks Birkinbine

Brenden Carta

Emily Craig

Annika Fahrner

Becca Fahrner

Sophia Grewal

Avery Harrington

Kendall Harrington

Jonathon Kaminski

Alta Kaster

Parker Kortas

Taylor Kortas

Abigail Linner

Marley Loomis

Saige Lottes

McKinley McAtee

Rylee McLouth

Reilly Mewborn

Thomas Mewborn

Margaret Morton

Isabella O’Reilly

Grace O’Reilly

Piper Rillos

Frank Ruppel

Madison Ruppel

Jenna Smith

Lily Starkey

Jack Strotbeck

Anna Terranova

Samantha Terranova

Arianna Tullis

Lucy Wilson

Natasha Totaman

— This weekend is what many of the members of the Steamboat Swim Team have been working for all summer.

On Friday, 33 of the 47 swimmers that qualified for the Western Slope Championships will travel to Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction for a chance to post top times and bring home titles. The athletes all reached qualifying times during the summer and now will have a chance to reach new speeds in the university's state-of-the-art pool.

“This is a big honor for our swimmers,” coach Jill Ruppel said. “This sport rewards dedication, hard work and mutual respect between coaches and athletes. These are all traits that Steamboat swimmers seem to excel at.”

The event marks the start of a busy month for the local team.

Steamboat will send the biggest group of swimmers to the Western Slope Championships, which begin early Friday in Grand Junction. Competitors will compete in events based on age and will face other top swimmers from across Western Colorado.

The Western Slope Championships will be followed by the Colorado Long Course State Championships from July 26 to 28 that also will take place in Grand Junction. Eight Steamboat swimmers are qualified for that meet, which features top athletes from across the state. Ruppel said the Steamboat contingent could grow based on results from this weekend’s meet, which also is a state championship qualifier.

During the final weekend of July and first week of August, the local team will see a few swimmers head to the Western Senior and Age Group Zones in Clovis, Calif. Samantha Terranova is the only swimmer qualified for the senior championships, for swimmers younger than 19, and Frank Ruppel will compete in the Age Group Zone, for swimmers ages 10 to 14 years old. Ruppel said two other swimmers are within reach of Zone times and could compete at the event.

The championship events have been a goal for many of the local swimmers. The Steamboat Swim Team competed in 10 meets this summer, and Ruppel said about half of the team’s members qualified for end-of-the-season championships. The coach said the goal of making these events is shared by many of the members of the team; however, there are many others who have joined the team as a way to stay in top physical shape and choose not to swim competitively.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com

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