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Girls swimming: Second-year program Holy Family flourishing heading into state

Fairview and Niwot expected to make a run for team titles

Abigail Philipsen, of Holy Family, in ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Abigail Philipsen, of Holy Family, in the 200 IM. The Colorado High School Class 3A state swim championships at VMAC were held on Feb. 15, 2020.

The duties of a high school swim coach were all the more encompassing as the pandemic raged on this winter in Colorado. And they’re not relieved of it just yet.

With the 3A meet at Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center currently moved back to Monday from Saturday due to expected heavy snowfall, Holy Family coach Mary Whitney’s latest assignment is to search out some hard-to-find pool time so her team can adjust and further prepare. https://embed.sendtonews.com/oembed/?fk=GPiaFvtZ&cid=10764&sound=off&format=json&offsetx=0&offsety=0&floatwidth=400&floatposition=bottom-right&float=on

Call it just another twist in a season woven together by them.

“I know the struggle with teams throughout the year has been finding pool time because of the restrictions and keeping only three or four kids in per lane,” Whitney said. “So, trying to find pool time between Saturday and Sunday is probably going to be the trickiest part of this weekend. But we’ll see what we can do to make sure the girls are in tip-top shape for the state competition.”

When Holy Family ultimately reaches the state meet, the second-year program is expected to contend — as defending-champ Fairview is in 5A, and as Niwot is in 4A.

The Tigers, who took 14th in their inaugural season, are ranked fourth coming into Take 2, per PrepSwimCo.com. Among their qualifiers, freshman Mary Kate Cavanaugh came into the week with the best diving score in 3A. Sophomore Abigail Philipsen and freshman Cate Chapman, meanwhile, each have multiple top-10 swim times.

The giant leap in maturation through a seven-week season is impressive — and that’s before you take into account the tight restrictions hurled onto all high school programs, let alone one in its early days.

“It’s just been constant positivity” this year, Whitney said. “Just with all the changes, we as coaches have really stepped it up a level and kept the positivity up and kept it as normal and as safe as possible. … My team has honestly handled (the season) super well.”

In the other classifications, Fairview will headline 5A area teams Thursday at VMAC and Niwot will front the 4A field Friday.

Last year, the Knights won the team title despite having no individual champs, and their depth looks strong again as they will compete at 24 spots through the 12 events.

For Niwot, Mary Codevilla looks to repeat in the 500 and 200 freestyle. She is the top seed in both. The Cougars fill in at 21 spots and are ranked in the top four in all three relays.

“The season has felt like a race in itself,” Niwot coach Kyle Bachrodt said. “It flew by. I tell our swimmers and my assistant coach daily it’s hard to believe just seven weeks ago we were conducting tryouts and were at our first workout. Going into state, we knew all along it would feel and look different. It’s going to be different and interesting.”

Different and interesting, indeed. This year’s championships only let in the top-20 individuals per event. In previous years, swimmers only had to reach a certain time or diving score to qualify. The meet is also expected to last more than 12 hours. Each event is spread out to limit capacity due to the pandemic.

Elsewhere, Legacy comes into the 5A meet ranked fifth, while Boulder is 20th. Broomfield is ranked seventh in 4A followed by Silver Creek in eighth, Longmont 11th and Centaurus 14th.