LONGMONT — It goes without saying that when the question of adding another classification of girls swimming came up, it was met with mixed reviews.
Was it really necessary? Who was it benefitting?
In the BoCo area, where the sport is taking off like never before and the number of swimmers on each team have spiked dramatically in recent years, it was a must.
The beneficiaries of the new Class 3A this year will be both Longmont and Centaurus, a move that may only last through this two year cycle, but will have long lasting affects for each program.
“Considering we don’t have any year-round swimmers, it actually gives our summer league swimmers and the rest of our team a chance to qualify on a different level,” Centaurus coach Ashley Scott said. “It just makes it much more achievable to qualify for state.”
Scott, who initially didn’t vote for the proposal, is from Illinois where there is no classification system and wrapping her head around, now three classes, took a little time.
“Now that is implemented and in place, it provides an opportunity to engage swimmers in the right way and provide that platform to reach their goals,” she said. “If people apply themselves, it is very, very achievable.”
And for the past few years, the Warriors have been very competitive in the 4A ranks, especially with their relay squads. Last Friday at the Fairview Invite, Centaurus’ 200-yard freestyle relay team of Erika Schunk, Sarah Boyer, Jackie Boian and Skylar Riley not only won the event, but punched their ticket to state.
Much like in the bigger classifications, depth will be key and the Warriors have some. In addition to those listed above, Scott should be able to count on Lexi James, Georgia Dauzvardis as well as freshmen Lily Dunkin and Grace Spakes.
“They are a lot more motivated and those goals are a lot more within reach,” Scott said. “They’ve set benchmarks and they are attainable.”
At Longmont, coach Kelly Shipley has welcomed incredible growth this season, fielding a team of over 60 girls.
The Trojans bring back five state qualifiers — Megan Smith, Bre Brown, Sam Kolodziej, Mel Boyle and Sydney Wyatt — and have an impressive freshman class to go with it.
“Last year our team was small and this time around it is twice as big and in hindsight I thought it would be a good idea to drop down,” said Shipley, who might have something very special in freshman Lucy Matheson. “It’s still the unknown, because there is good competition out there and I’m excited to see how the girls do.”
And while the opportunities are there for girls to reach the state meet that normally would not have had a chance in either 4A or 5A, Shipley did get a little kickback from some of her higher level girls that were a little disappointed about the move.
“But as a whole, it was the decision we decided to make and I think it will be good,” she said. “I don’t think we will be there past two years, so we are going to go for it the next few years and see what happens.”