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Girls swimming: Silver Creek exceeds expectations at 4A prelims

THORNTON — Perseverance often plays a huge role in prep swimming, especially when it comes to the meets everyone is watching.

For several local swimmers, there was no greater showing of that than at the Class 4A state preliminaries at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton, where second chances were seized over and over again.

That’s partly why Silver Creek, expected to finish in the top 10 in the team standings after Saturday’s finals (2 p.m.), will have 14 races to cheer for rather than the 13 that were expected according to seeding.

Also, perseverance paid off for the Centaurus girls 200 freestyle relay team, which jumped five spots to the eighth seed for a championship final after two of the girls on that team were disqualified in an earlier event.

Every local team saw times drop drastically, signifying a great end to the season. For some, it’s not quite over yet.

Silver Creek put itself in great position for Saturday, doing so by qualifying all three relays to the championship finals as expected. Three Raptors also made the consolation finals of the 100 freestyle, and Laura Caro’s 50 freestyle time gave SCHS one more point-producing swim for Saturday.

Silver Creek’s Nikki Schlegel cast aside any disappointment of not making the championship heat of Saturday’s 100 butterfly — she was just a tenth slower than her seed time and finished 10th — by coming back and improving a spot in the 100 backstroke (finished in seventh at 59.29 seconds). She then helped the 400 free relay team drop 1.4 seconds to remain in the championship heat in that race.

“All the work we put in, we just tried to have that show up and I think it did. (Saturday) is all about having fun because you put all the work into (Friday),” Schlegel said. “I can do the backstroke in my sleep now, so I really just tried to focus on mechanics and turns and the time comes with that. I mostly just try to have fun with it.

“I think we fed off the environment and fed off our own teammates encouraging each other.”

The Raptors’ Brandi Vu also had a great afternoon, sneaking into the 100 breaststroke finals by dropping nearly a full second (1:06.67). She’ll join teammate Jenna Latsko in those finals.

“We had all kinds of personal best times from each of the girls that swam, and at the end of the day that’s the accomplishment you want at this meet,” Silver Creek head coach Debbie Stewart said. “This meet’s fast, and I think that going head-to-head with some fast girls will help us move up even more.”

Skyline, which still has diver Alaina Hellenberg on the docket for possible points, got an outstanding performance in back-to-back races from Alex Hellenberg. She’ll race the 50 freestyle consolation final after moving up to 10th from 11th (25.11) but perhaps more impressive was her jump in the 100 butterfly from 36th seed to 18th. She cut four seconds off her time despite the quick turnaround.

“I thought they were going to do the diving for some reason, so I was expecting a little more (warmup) time, but that’s OK,” Alex Hellenberg said. “This is the first year I’ve really swam the fly, and after dropping a ton of time and qualifying I thought I might as well swim it at state. I didn’t want to do the 100 free again.

“I thought my 50 would be better, but it still went pretty well.”

Niwot’s best chance for big points will come with diver Maddie Barkow’s performance Saturday, but the Cougars were able to sneak into the consolation finals of the 400 free relay with a swim of 3:52.59. The Cougars dropped times in each of their other two relays, as well.

The Centaurus relays were also the Warriors’ bread and butter entering Friday’s meet, and although CHS didn’t get back for the 200 medley relay they fought to make Saturday in the other two.

Coach Ashley Scott was pleased with the way the 200 free relay team took control of the situation and turned the meet around, as the foursome of Shannon Milton, Skylar Riley, Erika Schunk and Lexi James touched in 1:44.20.

The Warriors will also have divers Erin and Sam Scarano in the mix Saturday.

“That was a turning point and I think that speaks a lot to our swimmers because we had a couple rough swims,” Scott said. “Skylar and Erika were just able to put their (disqualifying swims in the 50 free) behind them and focus on the team and the bigger picture. They both really stepped up.”

Adam Dunivan: or