Depth proves to be crucial as Fairview claims 5A girls swimming and diving state title

Fairview girls swimming

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

THORNTON — Ahead of the 100-yard breaststroke race, Fairview freshman Emma Weber was doing everything possible to get prepared. That included not getting on the podium with her teammates after they took gold in the 200 freestyle relay.

An imposter took her place as the fourth member of the team. She was warming down for that breaststroke race, a race she went on to win. It was Fairview's only individual championship. But that didn't matter as the Knights used their depth to win the Class 5A swimming and diving championship at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton.

"We challenged the girls," coach Bob Smartt said. "There are eight individual races and we challenged them to have four girls make finals in six of those, and they pulled it off."

Fairview scored 495.5 points to 378 for Fossil Ridge who came in as the two-time defending state champion.

With eyes on that team race, the 200-yard medley relay race - the first event of the meet - became the early focal point. Fairview went with the tactic of having senior Riley Tapley start the race and letting freshman Morgan Lukinac take the anchor.

The plan paid off as the Knights' time of one minute, 41.66 seconds just edged out the Sabercats.

Fairview girls swimming

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

Fossil Ridge bounced right back with Coleen Gillilan's win in the 200 freestyle. Freshman Lucy Bell followed up that performance by getting a win in the 200 individual medley. Each team had three placers in the race. The Sabercats took first, fourth and seventh while Fairview's swimmers finished third, sixth and eighth.

After Lukinac took sixth in the 50 freestyle, the Knights had begun to establish a comfortable lead.

"I don't really know (when we had it wrapped up) but I know our medley relay was amazing," Weber said. "The whole team performed amazing tonight."

And that's not an exaggeration. According to Smartt the Knights set six school records at the event. All three relay teams broke school marks, Tapley's 55.65 in the 100 backstroke is a school record, Weber's winning time of 1:05.5 in the breaststroke is a record and senior Mikayla Seigal's 100 butterfly mark of 54.97 is a Fairview best.

Seigal was on the last Fairview team to claim the 5A crown back in 2016.

"I think it just shows our team camaraderie and how much depth we have as a team," Seigal said. "I think each swimmer stepped up to the plate and swam so well for the team and themselves."

Fossil Ridge claimed the runner-up trophy with a win in the 400 freestyle relay. Coleen Gillilan claimed gold in the 200 and 500 freestyle races while her sister Renee, a freshman, won the 100 fly.

In a meet dominated by the Knights and Sabercats, Lewis-Palmer senior Meredith Rees was the only other swimmer to come away with multiple wins. She claimed the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke and wasn't the top seed in either race.

"That was one of my goals, to win state," Rees said. "I've been so close all the other years and I knew it could be my year because all the other Fossil Ridge girls graduated last year."

Rees and the Rangers finished 10th in the team race. Regis Jesuit, Cherry Creek and Arapahoe rounded out the top five in the team standings.

Saturday marked Fairview's third team championship. They won their first back in 2004.