THORNTON — With many top veteran swimmers coming back, teams in the Boulder County region are optimistic about turning in a strong season this winter.
What may push them over the top, however, is a strong group of freshmen and sophomores that are leading the way in many events and providing depth and points for the teams so far.
The trend continued Saturday at the Legacy Lightning Invitational at Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center this weekend. A total of six teams from Boulder County were in the 16-team field for the first big swim meet of the season.
From the start Saturday, the freshmen and sophomores led the way.
Indigo Armon had a strong day for Legacy, helping the 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relays teams take first place as the anchor swimmer. She also added a first-place result in the 50 freestyle on the day, turning in a time of 24.96 seconds.
"We have a very talented young group," Legacy coach Amber Sullivan said. "There's a different team culture and attitude. We do have the standout swimmers, but what we can do with 71 swimmers is remarkable. We'll have a lot of depth and the talent from the underclass helps with that."
Other local underclassmen that won an event and stood out were sophomores Mairead Powers of Broomfield and Emma Hermeston of Silver Creek.
Powers began Saturday in the 200 individual medley and won the event for the Eagles. Her biggest win came in the 500 freestyle as she would go on to win by nearly five seconds.
"I just go out fast and try to stay up there," Powers said.
Right after her 500 freestyle, she anchored the 400 freestyle relay to a fifth-place finish. Like many of the other teams, the relays have been a pair of underclassmen working with two upperclassmen to place in the meet.
"It's really important that we step up," Powers said. "We all want to support each other."
Hermeston was the champion in the 100 butterfly for Silver Creek and finished second in the 100 backstroke. She also swam in the 200 medley relay to help the Raptors take third place.
In total, nine underclassmen either finished in the top-three in individual events or were on a relay team that scored in the top three. The girls did it in 11 of the 12 swimming events.
"I hope the rest of the season goes as well for us as the beginning," Powers said.
Top local winners in meet
Legacy led the way for area schools by winning four events that pushed it to second place in the team standings. Broomfield won two events to finish sixth overall and Silver Creek won an event towards an eighth-place team result.
Armon joined Kandice Chandra, Charli Dolan and Shannon Feran in the 200 medley relay to win with a time of 1:55.04 to start a strong day in relays for the team. The Lightning also won the 400 freestyle relay with Armon, Chandra, Feran and Abby Zadorozny with a time of 3:41.32. Armon's strong day finished with a first-place time in the 50 freestyle at 24.96. Emma Kulbida was the final champion in the 100 breaststroke as she finished in 1:11.28.
Powers grabbed the two wins for Broomfield in the 200 individual medley (2:13.67) and the 500 freestyle (5:20.42) to lead the Eagles. Hermeston's win for Silver Creek came in the 100 butterfly (1:00.12).
Legacy Lightning Invitational
At Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center
Team standings -- Fossil Ridge 504, Legacy 455, Valor Christian 440, Horizon 353, Silver Creek 294, Broomfield 239, Rampart 233, Niwot 266, Rocky Mountain 197, Poudre 158, Centaurus 129, Fort Collins 96, Brighton 66.5, Erie 25, Mountain Range 20.5, Longmont 20.
200 medley relay — 1. Legacy (Kandice Chandra, Charli Dolan, Shannon Feran, Indigo Armon) 1:55.04*; 2. Fossil Ridge (Emily Rinker, Riley Green, Emma Stahl, Georgia Ewer) 1:55.39*; 3. Silver Creek (Emma Hermeston, Karly Pearson, Kylie Dirks, Maddie Black) 1:55.57*.
200 freestyle — 1. Meredith Smithbaker, Rocky Mountain (1:59.77)*; 2. AJ Adams, Valor Christian (1:59.85)*; 3. Kaylee Austin, Broomfield (2:01.37)*.
200 IM — 1. Mairead Powers, Broomfield (2:13.67)*; 2. Emily Rinker, Fossil Ridge (2:14.56)*; 3. Ashley Stenstrom, Valor Christian (2:17.39)*.
50 freestyle — 1. Indigo Armon, Legacy (24.96)*; 2. Shannon Feran, Legacy (25.39)*; 3. Addison O'Donnell, Horizon (25.69)*.
Diving — 1. Gabrielle Peltier, Rampart (436.45); 2. Maggie Buckley, Rampart (419.10); 3. Lexi Dellinger, Fossil Ridge (404.90).
100 butterfly — 1. Emma Hermeston, Silver Creek (1:00.12)*; 2. Kylie Dirks, Silver Creek (1:00.27)*; 3. Laelle Brovold, Rampart (1:00.30)*.
100 freestyle — 1. Ashley Stenstrom, Valor Christian (54.41)*; 2. Maddie Black, Silver Creek (56.18)*; 3. Shannon Feran, Legacy (56.50).
500 freestyle — 1. Mairead Powers, Broomfield (5:20.42)*; 2. AJ Adams, Valor Christian (5:25.19)*; 3. Elena Moore, Silver Creek (5:26.93)*.
200 free relay — 1. Fossil Ridge (Jaidyn Nelson, Hadley Nelson, Summer Siverts, Emma Stahl) 1:44.28*; 2. Horizon (Olivia Tagart, Corinne Schoeni, Delaney Osborn, Addison O'Donnell) 1:44.65*; Niwot (Izzie Mitchell, Kristi Vu, Jill Stephenson, Grace Shaw) 1:46.86*.
100 backstroke — 1. Daciana Colon, Valor Christian (59.61)*; 2. Emma Hermeston, Silver Creek (1:01.99)*; 3. Peyton Schwartz, Brighton (1:02.57)*.
100 breaststroke — 1. Emma Kulbida, Legacy (1:11.28)*; 2. McKenzie Jenkins, Centaurus (1:11.32)*; 3. Hosanna Amare, Valor Christian (1:11.68)*.
400 free relay — 1. Legacy (Kandice Chandra, Abby Zadorzny, Shannon Feran, Indigo Armon) 3:41.32*; 2. Valor Christian (Daciana Colon, AJ Adams, Kalie Linden, Ashley Stenstrom) 3:45.95*; 3. Rocky Mountain (Alex Leland, Quinlan Hinerfeld, Kira Leland, Meredith Smithbaker) 3:49.25*.
* — denotes state-qualifying mark