Being a senior in high school was the best distraction Brittney Beetcher could have possibly asked for this year.
As the talented swimmer for Fairview was out to defend two individual Class 5A state titles, the leadership role she grasped a firm hold of for the Knights allowed her to not be fully immersed in the typical pressures that one in her position might get put up against.
The thrill of guiding the team to a second place finish at state — an exceptional standing considering FHS graduated about 70 points from its 2016 5A championship squad — proved just as joyful to Beetcher as what she accomplished individually in the pool.
Her ability to rule 5A in the 200 free and 500 free for a second year in a row, however, is largely responsible for her earning the BoCoPreps.com swimmer of the year honor.
"This year, just defending the state (team) title, we knew that Fossil Ridge was going to be really hard to beat but we all wanted to do our best and put our best effort forward," Beetcher said this week as she prepares for a USA Swimming sectional meet coming up in March. "For me, it wasn't so much teaching the younger girls but more trying to guide them and show what being on a high school team is about.
"The big thing for me was wanting to show the freshmen, especially at state, that you make best friends here and that it's all for each other. Be there cheering and support one another. This year was more about keeping the team close and we did get that good team atmosphere."
For four of the past seven years now, the distance freestyle crown in 5A has come to the Boulder Valley School District (Abigail Houck in 2011, Amanda Richey in 2014, and Beetcher in 2016 and 2017). And Beetcher's defense of the event was the first time 5A had seen a back-to-back winner in the 500 since Cherry Creek's Loren Brandon in 2008 and 2009.
While girls have defended the 200 free a little more frequently, that event might be a little more difficult in which to do so, as well. This year, Beetcher didn't seal that race at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton until her very last turn for the final 25 yards.
But, she did it and eventually wrapped up a career that included four individual gold medals and 12 other medals. She placed fourth as a freshman in the 200 free but never finished lower than third the rest of her career in the two events. In the freestyle relays, the foursomes that included her claimed at least fourth place in seven of eight races.
It's easy to see why anyone in an FHS suit or otherwise would want to follow in her footsteps.
"She just gave us a lot of leadership and advice, and it's always amazing watching her," sophomore teammate Mikayla Seigal said after the state meet had concluded. "You want to try and be your absolute best when you try and race her."
Beetcher has had several coaches help shape her efforts over the years, but she could not say enough about being a part of the Fairview family under longtime coach Bob Smartt.
"I remember meeting him my freshman year and just how much of an amazing atmosphere he makes for us," said Beetcher, who will be swimming for the Mid-American Conference's University of Buffalo next year. "He cares about everyone and made sure everyone strives to improve, even if by a little. I'm glad I got to go to Fairview and experience that."