Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
There’s a lot of information floating around with regard to most high school sports in Colorado, with statistics and rankings known to feed into the hype of many individual events or player performances.
For Longmont swimmers Emma Svendsen and Lucille Matheson, the season-long rankings posted by Prepswimco.com — the only source of information for the sport through the year — was kind of an obsession.
Seeing the Trojans ranked either first or second as a team in Class 3A, flip-flopping with Pueblo County on a few occasions, is a pretty big deal for the young student-athletes.
Now, as the state swimming and diving championships begin Thursday at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center with Class 3A preliminaries, it’s time to see who shows everything in the pool.
As much as head coach Kelly Shipley tried to ignore and de-emphasize the rankings, her athletes rarely went a week without taking a peek.
“Yeah, we are,” said Matheson, who as a sophomore is expected to be a contender for two state titles herself. “We know it’s the closest we’ve ever been to even placing at a meet like state, and so it’s gotten us excited. We have so many seniors and it would be so exciting to see us win.”
“We keep track of the rankings, just because it means a lot for where we are and how far we’ve come,” said Svendsen, a freshman coming off a Northern League championship in the backstroke. “We’re really excited to get to perform and have a great meet and just do the best we can.”
The Trojans have seen clearly through their darkened goggles since the beginning of the season, just months after placing 15th in the first-ever 3A state meet a year ago.
They returned eight state qualifiers, and at the front and center of that was Matheson who as a freshman placed in both the 200 IM and 500 free for LHS and made it known that her team was just getting started.
They got to work on their relays — a high-scoring element to state, to be true — and have seen a handful of swimmers from the past couple of seasons come into their own this year. More importantly, the team dynamic simply blossomed.
“We’ve worked really hard this season with this time in mind, and we supported each other more than ever I feel like, so that contributed to our success,” Matheson said.
“The girls are humble and they care about each other, and it’s a nice group of girls just having a good time in high school,” said Shipley, in her third year at the helm. “You have to keep things in perspective, and I think they are doing a good job of that this year. The whole team together is what has us excited.”
Matheson is once again primed for a good showing in both of her individual events, but the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay teams each have the distinction of coming into Thursday’s prelims with the top seed times.
In addition, Emma Svendsen is seeded high in her two individual events (200 free, 100 back) and her older sister Hannah is seeded third in both the individual medley and the breaststroke.
From there, it’s the Trojans having more depth at the meet and just trying their all at picking up a spot here or there. Overall, the Trojans will have 26 swims at prelims — and seniors Sam Rhodes and Saffron Kolodziej have a chance to put LHS over the top.
“They know what they need to do and they like what they’re doing, and really that is what is important,” Shipley said. “You just never know because there is a lot of good competition out there, but they are super excited and that’s all you can ask for.”
“I really think our state team has great potential, and we’re there to race but we’re going to have fun with it,” Emma Svendsen said.
All three classifications of girls swimming has the potential of outstanding local team results.
In 5A, which will be held at Edora Pool Ice Center in Fort Collins, Fairview’s depth should keep the Knights right in line for a trophy as they attempt to unseat defending champion Fossil Ridge. Mikayla Seigel and Amalie Lessing are seeded top-three in multiple events, while the FHS relays are all seeded top-five. Monarch backstroke specialist Katey Lewicki is one of the few girls not a SaberCat that comes in with a top event seed time.
In Class 4A (also at VMAC), Silver Creek and Niwot could be jockeying for team placings against each other, while the Raptors’ Brandi Vu and the Cougars’ Payten Irwin lead their squads.
And also in 3A is Centaurus, who didn’t find a coach until quite late in the fall but have a chance to finish in the top three in team standings. The Warriors will have 25 swims at prelims and are led by Erica Schunk, Lara Franco and McKenzie Jenkins.