David R. Jennings / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Fairview’s Brittney Beetcher admits she doesn’t pay much attention to the bi-weekly swim rankings that are compiled by one of the state’s gurus, Valor Christian coach Rob Nasser.
When your own times are the only thing you can control, it’s pretty easy to block those out.
But if she were to look at those standings heading into Saturday’s Boulder County Invitational, she’d see that as a junior for the Knights she’s put herself in the conversation for two individual medals at the Class 5A state meet about one month away.
Up the road, Silver Creek’s Jenna Latsko is ranked highly in two events in Class 4A as a senior. Like Beetcher, Latsko was getting ready for a big meet this weekend — the Longmont City Meet, always one of the have-to-perform events for the Raptors.
What Latsko didn’t account for was an unfortunate incident involving an ice patch while going out to her car on Wednesday, and a concussion will keep her from swimming in Saturday’s meet at the Centennial Pool.
It’s a big loss for Silver Creek, which will compete against Niwot, Skyline and Longmont for city bragging rights. But while Latsko will be cheering from the deck, she’ll know in the back of her mind that she’s trained well in anticipation of a strong finish.
“I feel like I’ve been swimming around those times a lot when I do swim them,” Latsko said of her 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley times, which stand at 1:06.36 and 2:12.23, respectively. “I haven’t been swimming those events in dual meets, but when I do I feel confident in my abilities for the time I will be rested.”
Latsko placed in the top 16 in both the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke at state last year. So far, unofficially, she has vaulted into the top three in the breaststroke and top six in the IM. The Longmont city meet represents as good a chance to any to drop times, but Latsko said she’ll be excited to watch her teammates get that chance.
Brandi Vu, Nicole Schlegel and Sara Findley are just a few Raptors to watch.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what we do this weekend because I think we can get some more girls qualified for state,” Latsko said. “This meet is one where you get to see a whole bunch of people improve their times, and that really inspires me a lot to just keep pushing, too.”
Beetcher will swim her signature events at the Veteran’s Memorial Aquatic Center on Saturday, admittedly focused for state already. She has the only sub-5 minute 500 freestyle time (4:59.57) so far this year, and in her 200 free time (1:52.76) is ranked second behind Grandview’s Mia Wood.
She finished second at state in both events last year (Arapahoe’s Ella Moynihan was a double-gold champion), providing her plenty of fuel to make a run at two golds herself. Also, Fairview has finished exceptionally well as a team yet hasn’t had a state champ since 2011. The Knights haven’t had a double-event winner since Kristen Lahey in 2005.
Aware of all those facts, Beetcher said her drive so far has come more from within.
“As of right now I’m pretty excited and happy to be where I am,” Beetcher said. “I’ve been holding best-time averages in practice, and that’s nice to know because other years I haven’t done as much testing where I am, say after four hours of training and then going again at the end of a second practice.
“For me, it’s about doing my best for my team and putting it all out there so that in the end I know there’s nothing more I could have done.”
The junior is also keenly aware of Bob Smartt’s “Big Three” — those being the Coaches Invite, the BoCo meet and finally the state meet. In her eyes, Saturday presents itself as a miniature version of state, with a lot less pressure.
The Knights have never lost the BoCo Invite as a team, but they may be tested by a deep SaberCats squad. Arapahoe, Mountain Vista and Loveland will also join in the festivities in some capacity.
“It’s a great team meet and we get to enter as many kids as we want, so that makes it so fun,” Beetcher said. “It’s fast … and I love the emphasis put on it overall. It’s a great stepping stone.
“It being the Boulder County meet, with Fossil being there I think that will create a more intense atmosphere. They were state champs last year, so I feel like we’ll have a lot to prove.”