THORNTON — Fossil Ridge spent most of its time during the Class 5A girls swimming state championships in one of two places: Swimming in the front of the pack, or on top of the podium.
“We’ve been talking about that since the beginning of the season,” said Fossil Ridge coach Carolyn Fries. “That was awesome, (the girls) swam so fast.”
The SaberCats took home the 5A state championship Friday with a team score of 390. Fossil Ridge’s Zoe Bartel won two individual events and was part of four relay championships: the 200 medley relay, 100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley and 200 free relay. In the 100 breaststroke, Bartel set a state record of 1:00.22.
“It’s one of the things I get to check off my list,” Bartel said. “It’s not all me, two of (the events) were relays, it’s about the team.”
Teammate Coleen Gillian also swam in four events and came away with three first-place finishes. In total, Fossil Ridge claimed nine of the 11 swimming events. They had a similar showing in prelims on Thursday.
This is the program’s third total title (2012, 2015) which moves the SaberCats into sixth place all-time for Colorado girls swimming championships.
The meet’s second heat saw Fossil Ridge set a state record in the 200-yard medley relay. Bayley Stewart, Bartel, Gillian and Kylee Alons notched a time of 1:39.40. Gillian took home yet another state record of her own with a time of 53.15 in the 100 butterfly.
“We all work our butts off, it’s so good to see our hard work pay off,” Gillian said. “I just try to have fun; when you have fun swimming it’s so much easier. As a team, we’re so close together, so when one person does well, you gotta do your work. It all clicks together.”
Alons wasn’t done, either. She finished first in both the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle.
The SaberCat relays were dominant. Fossil Ridge also took first in the 200 freestyle relay, just missing the mark on setting another state record with a time of 1:34.60. The state record stays at 1:34.40.
Fossil Ridge capped the championships with a 3:22.45 first-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay, again just missing a state record by 0.03.
Defending champion Fairview came in second behind Fossil Ridge with 334 points.
The Knights’ Brittney Beetcher took first in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:50.46. Beetcher was a two-time champion in the meet, also winning the 500 freestyle — defending both of her previous titles.
“Fossil is amazing, all their girls are amazing. For me, it was just great to race,” Beetcher said. “Defending my two titles was nerve racking, but I have such a good group of girls around me. I did it more for Fairview than myself.”
Third place belonged to Arapahoe. The Warriors ended with a team score of 221.
In the 200 individual medley, it was back to Fossil Ridge, as they took over the podiums throughout the meet. Bartel came in first, with Bailey Kovac and Stewart finishing second and third, respectively. Stewart got her win later in the 100 backstroke, edging out teammate Bailey Kovac for first place.
In diving, Lexie Barker of Douglas County won with a score of 493.25.
“Every year I’ve worked my way up in the placing just a little bit more,” Barker said. It feels good to finally get first. It was very stressful coming up to this because I did really well all season.”
Arapahoe’s Franny Cable came in second, and Douglas County teammate Samantha Tamborski followed in third. Cable scored 474.45, while Tamborski scored 446.65.
Barker smiled at the thought of what was going through her mind as she walked the flexing, seafoam green board a meter above the water.
“Don’t screw up. That’s the first thing. I know how to do the dives correctly, my body knows what it’s doing, I just have to remember to let go of everything and just do it.”
Barker elegantly plunged into the water and onto the podium as the 5A dive champion.