Brittney Beetcher experienced a quick and rewarding ascension last year that typical of elite young swimmers.
Once such athletes devote themselves to swimming year-round, an event that commonly occurs at the advent of high school, the gains often are abrupt and dramatic. Within months, many swimmers go from simply being the fastest kid in the pool to a collector of state medals.
Beetcher experienced just that sort of rise a year ago during her freshman 2013-14 campaign with the Fairview Knights. A multi-sport athlete and natural distance swimmer, Beetcher’s newfound devotion to swimming resulted in a pair of top-four finishes at her first state meet.
Records and state championships were supposed to follow, but that didn’t quite happen in 2014-15 as Beetcher experienced another phenomenon common among elite swimmers making that year-round plunge — watching gains dwindle and plateau as the months pass.
In Beetcher’s case, however, that plateau sits at a level that is the envy of most swimmers, year-round or otherwise. Remaining at almost the exact same time level as her freshman year still was good enough for Beetcher to bring home a pair of second-place medals from the Class 5A state finals.
It also was more than good enough for Beetcher to receive the 2015 BoCoPreps.com girls Swimmer of the Year honor.
“Personally, I felt the year went pretty well, but the summer before this I really hit a plateau,” Beetcher said. “My coaches did a great job of helping me work through that. They kept me focused. They were really supportive. I’m pretty proud I was able to get the same times.”
Remarkably, Beetcher’s top time in the 200 freestyle came in at 1 minute, 50.87 seconds — the exact same mark she posted while finishing fourth in the event as a freshman. This year’s effort was good for second-place behind Arapahoe’s Ella Moynihan, who also edged Beetcher for the top honors in the 500 freestyle.
Beetcher’s 500 time of 4:55.20 was marginally better than her 4:55.31 mark from her freshman year, though she once again moved up a spot from third in 2014 to second this year. Those times are well within striking distance of Fairview’s program records set by Sarah Fischer 11 years ago in the 200 (1:50.72) and 500 (4:54.70).
Beetcher was quick to credit the work of Fairview coach Bob Smartt and her club coach, Jim Richey from the Boulder Swim Team, for pushing her through a phase where her improvement had grown stagnant.
“Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” Smartt said. “There’s really only two parts of it. There’s the bio-mechanics, the technique. For instance, in the 500 free, she does 19 turns. If you can improve each turn an .01 or an .02, you get to multiply that 19 times.
“In terms of training, it just means harder sets and moving faster. And that takes a whole lot of fortitude. But distance swimmers, that’s what it’s all about.”
With Beetcher ready to surge forward once again, Smart already is looking ahead to what she will be able to do as the leader of a Fairview team that expects to add an abundance of speedy freshmen next year. Given Beetcher will be a state title favorite in two events, how she helps integrate the youngsters into the Knights’ relay teams will play a key factor in Fairview’s 2016 state title dreams.
“We don’t need her to be faster,” Smartt said. “Of course, it would be nice if she breaks those school records, but she’s already scoring big points for us. What she can do for us next year, now that she’ll be a junior, is starting to take a leadership role. What she can do from a leadership standpoint with (the newcomers) is probably going to be more important to us than her getting a little faster.”
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