LOVELAND — The approach to the conference championship meet is different for every team and every individual.
Some go for broke and others put the onus on next week's Class 5A state meet at the Edora Pool Ice Center in Fort Collins by resting and tapering one more week.
Those who did swim on Saturday at the Front Range League championships at the Mountain View Aquatic Center and tasted success will be able to carry that momentum into next week for another run to the podium.
The lone champion from the BoCo region on Saturday was Broomfield junior Jillian Martin, who held off a hard charging Josie Carpenter of Greeley West in the final 50 yards to win the 500-yard freestyle in 5 minutes, 14.32 seconds — just .07 ahead of the Spartans junior.
"I had my heart set on winning this," Martin said. "I felt it in my heart that I could do it."
Martin swam a smart race, letting Fossil Ridge senior Bayley Stewart and Carpenter set the pace in the early going. She bided her time and then stepped on the gas pedal in the final 150 yards, cresting separation from Stewart.
"My main strategy in the longer races, like the 200 and the 500, is to really stretch it out and keep my strokes long so that I don't waste energy on the front half," said Martin, who also placed seventh in the 200 free, "And I can really bring it home in the end."
It was a strategy that paid off in the smallest of margins. Carpenter's final 50-yard split was 29.26 seconds compared to Martin's 31.68 that made the margin of victory razor thin.
Martin is ready for even greater things next week.
"I got some good decent rest coming into this week and I'm ready to get some more rest and a little more tapered for state," said Martin, who isn't quite sure what she will be swimming at EPIC. "My goal is to make the 'A' meet finals in both events."
The best final of the night was the 100 backstroke, that featured Fossil Ridge's N.C. State bound senior Kylee Alons, Monarch sophomore Katey Lewicki and Horizon transfer Charlotte Fieeiki (a two-time state champion in Virginia in the event).
Alons went out quick and raced to a victory in 54.69 seconds, just ahead of Lewicki, who swam a personal best 55.57.
"There were a lot of really fast girls there and I was really excited to race them. It can be scary and somewhat psychological, but they push me to go faster," said Lewicki, who will also swim the 200 individual medley at state. "I really like to race every week and I think state is going to be a lot of fun.
Lewicki has visions of going even faster at state and would love nothing more than to make a junior national cut in the backstroke by going 54 seconds.
For the second straight season, Legacy finished runner-up with 488 points compared to Fossil Ridge's whopping 855.5.
"We are pretty darn proud of that," Legacy coach Diana Wiles said. "For my state swimmers, we just train right on through this week and we will hit state strong."
Boulder freshman Ella Kipfer finished third in the 100 free. The Panthers had a big day individually with six more state cuts and will represent in all three relays next week.
Fairview, which is expected to battle for a top finish at state but held out a large portion of its top competitors on Saturday, had junior diver Rya Muller finished third with a score of 424.85 points.
FRONT RANGE LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Mountain View Aquatic Center
Team scores — Fossil Ridge 855.5, Legacy 488, Monarch 432, Rocky Mountain 422.5, Loveland 422, Boulder 363, Horizon 331, Broomfield 285, Poudre 282, Fort Collins 250, Fairview 223, Mountain Range 218, Greeley West 184.
200 medley relay — Fossil Ridge 1:43.22 (Front Range League record); Monarch (Lewicki, Atkinson, Webster, Barjenbruch) 1:49.66; Legacy (Walters, Romano, Romero, Feran) 1:49.90.
200 freestyle — Barrier, Rocky Mountain, 1:53.26; Reimer, Fort Collins, 1:54.96; Lang, Loveland, 1:55.27.
200 IM — Alons, Fossil Ridge, 2:04.49; Niemann, Fossil Ridge, 2:10.90; Johnson, Greeley West, 2:13.65.
50 freestyle — Smithbaker, Rocky Mountain, 23.69; Gillilan, Fossil Ridge, 23.84; Lewicki, Monarch, 24.53.
Diving — McCarthy, Fort Collins, 479.15 points; Brown, Horizon, 451.85; Muller, Fairview, 424.85.
100 butterfly — Gillilan, Fossil Ridge, 54.08 (FRL record); Barrier, Rocky Mountain, 57.61; Fieeiki, Horizon, 57.86.
100 freestyle — Smithbaker, Rocky Mountain, 51.76; Mason, Fossil Ridge, 54.31; Kipfer, Boulder, 54.68.
500 freestyle — Martin, Broomfield, 5:14.32; Carpenter, Greeley West, 5:14.39; Stewart, Fossil Ridge, 5:21.08.
200 free relay — Rocky Mountain 1:36.74; Fossil Ridge 1:37.82; Boulder (Kipfer, Riccio, Koehn, Culberson) 1:40.54.
100 backstroke — Alons, Fossil Ridge, 54.69 (FRL record); Lewicki, Monarch, 55.57; Fieeiki, Horizon, 56.43.
100 breaststroke — Baker, Fossil Ridge, 1:05.64; Johnson, Greeley West, 1:08.24; Erlandson, Fossil Ridge, 1:09.23.
400 free relay — Fossil Ridge 3:32.67; Rocky Mountain 3:35.23; Boulder (Warner, Koehn, Kipfer, Culberson) 3:41.00.