Swimmers ‘right there’
Among nearly 40 swimmers out for the Pueblo West High School girls swimming team, many of them are returning members or have club swimming experience, so despite a small window of practice before the first meet, coaches are hopeful.
“We’ve got quite a few of the same girls coming back, and then several new kids that are right up there,” said Dianne Petkoff, head coach.
“I think it’s really promising that some of the newer girls swam club a few years ago but haven’t swam in high school – I have this group of girls that are ‘right there,’ almost ready.
“A large amount ready to go early in the season which is good.”
Petkoff noted that practices started a week later than usual this season, so there were only three days of practice before students were off for Thanksgiving.
Although practice was held that week, they are not mandatory, so Petkoff said it’s been difficult to quickly judge exactly how it will all shake out.
A few notable competitors to watch, Petkoff said, include Miranda Coxen, who will try to make the state meet in the 200 Individual Medley.
Merrilynn Abbott looks to be a contender in the 500 freestyle, as well as Davi Eden in diving.
Other swimmers to watch for potential state qualifying times include Duren, Bari Agnes, Alison Kemmet and Kelsi Morrow.
Two of Pueblo West High School’s relay teams qualified for state competition last year, and Petkoff said she feels there is “plenty of talent” to fill the holes created by graduates.
Getting the chemistry right for each relay is sometimes the biggest challenge, she noted, since it’s not just as easy as grouping four people together to swim.
Some girls have preferences or are better at certain positions, so it sometimes takes a bit of shuffling.
“The biggest challenge is finding out where everybody goes,” she said.
“After seeing them in the water just a few times, you have no clue. So (for the first meet Dec. 3), if it works, it works! Then we’ll have another week until the next meet to even it out.”
Petkoff said the returning swimmers are split as to whether they’ll swim the same events as last year or switch things up.
Some are looking to try different distances in their chosen stroke, while others will swim something altogether different.
“I’ll give them a shot if they want to do it,” Petkoff said.
Petkoff said one the things she tries to instill in all her swimmers is that everybody matters, and the importance of being a team – things that go way beyond the pool.
“It’s not always about winning,” she said. “You can lose every dual meet, but you can still have state qualifying times and that’s OK, too. And although it’s a lot of individuals, you still get points for the team, so it’s a team effort and every point matters.
“Also, its good to go out and try and be part of something.
“Like I’ve got a couple of seniors this year that haven’t swam before, but they wanted to try it and do something.
“That’s how life is. I don’t want kids thinking they can’t go out in the world and try something if they haven’t done it their entire life.
“Swimming is a good program for that, as it instills in you that what you do matters.”
Petkoff does her best to include everyone – this year she has nine ESS students swimming on the team.
She began incorporating them (most on the JV squad) because it’s great exercise for everyone, and she’s seen it help improve behavior, instill confidence and more.
“I think it’s important for all students to be able to participate on an athletic team in high school because it helps with their self esteem, self-worth and character,” Petkoff said.
“Being part of the swim team helps students form friendships and develop skills they can use throughout their lives.”