FORT COLLINS — Epic. The four letters are an acronym for the Edora Pool Ice Center in Fort Collins, the site of the Class 3A swimming championships this season. The word is also a fitting way to describe the state meet.
With teams like Pueblo County, Evergreen, Aspen, and Kent Denver in the mix, Friday’s preliminary rounds set the stage for an entertaining final day.
“It seems like a faster pool for some reason,” Evergreen super junior Remi Gucker said. “It’s state so we’re all high on adrenaline.”
Gucker rode the rush to a pair of first place finishes in her individual preliminary events, the 200-yard freestyle (one minute, 56.47 seconds) and the 500 freestyle (5:11.68). In the process, the rising star shaved nearly two and six seconds off her seed times.
“I’m very happy with how I swam, because I haven’t swam that fast in awhile now,” she beamed. “I’m closer to my actual best times. I’m hoping I can drop some time tomorrow night.”
If she does so, Evergreen will be in an even more favorable position as one of the front-runners for the team championship. Gucker, Christina Crane, Maggie McDonald, and Hope Atkins displayed the power of their group in Friday’s final prelim, the 400 freestyle relay, as the Cougars’ time of 3 minutes, 43.57 seconds nipped Kent Denver’s 3:44.57.
The No. 1 ranked team in 3A entering the state meet, Evergreen qualified numerous swimmers for the A and B finals. Crane, a senior, was third in both the 100 breaststroke (1:07.42) and the 100 freestyle (54.87).
And, the same relay group, except for Margaret McDonald in place of Maggie, will be the No. 2 seed in the finals of the 200 medley (1:52.57), only about a second behind Aspen. The Cougars feel confident heading into the season finale, and for good reason.
“We did really well at leagues,” Gucker said. “We won by like 80 points, so that was a really good sign that we could win state, especially because we hadn’t won leagues since I was a freshman.”
The junior, a finalist several times at state, is hoping to win her first individual, relay, and team titles on Saturday. She is quick to credit the coaching staff, as well as her teammates, for the group’s success though.
“There’s the regular high school girls and they’re doing really well,” she said. “A few of us have the added bonus of club practice where we can just do some more yardage that helps us get ready for these bigger meets. We all just feed off each other’s energy at the actual meet.”
Davy Brown, a senior for Aspen, notched the No. 1 seed in the 200 IM (2:08.70) and St. Mary’s junior Caitlin Cairns swept the prelims of the 50 free (24.19) and the 100 butterfly (56.26), events that were back-to-back.
Competition will resume at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with the dive prelims.