Everything that the Colorado high school girls swimmers and divers have worked toward all season is about to come to fruition.
Starting with Class 4A on Thursday, the best of the best athletes in the state will converge on the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton, and several teams in Boulder and Broomfield Counties have a real shot at winning some serious hardware.
At this time last season, CHSAA limited the competition to just the top 20 swimmers and divers in each event, regardless of whether or not others had met the state qualifying marks. This year, the meet has returned to a more normal slate defined by times instead of positioning in each classification.
5A could be a big battle first and second as Cherry Creek, Legacy and Fairview round out the top 3 rankings in this week’s prepswimco.com polls. While the Bruins boast 30 swimmers with top-20 times, the Lightning and Knights have some serious contenders in a number of events.
Legacy currently holds the top seeds in three events and top-three seeds in five more as Indigo Armon leads all of 5A in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 23.47 seconds, Sabrina Rachjaibun ranks first in the 500-yard freestyle (5:01.53) and 200-yard freestyle relay sits at the top (1:35.07). The Lightning has also recorded silver- and bronze-medal-worthy performances throughout the regular season in the 100 freestyle (Julia Raskay, third, 45.08), 100 backstroke (Sydney Bales, second, 55.08), the 200 individual medley (Rachjaibun, second, 2:05.30), the 200 medley relay (third, 1:43.41) and the 400 freestyle relay (third, 3:27.05).
Last year, the Lightning finished fifth in the team competition. Head coach Leigh Dodd chalked up her team’s top times this year to focusing more on base and pacing-specific work from top to bottom in practice as well as allowing the ladies to choose a focus for a week or a workout.
“I think that change is most directly reflected in the fact we brought back 32 of 32 scoring swims at our league championships, with several swimming off-events,” Dodd said. “This allowed us to utilize every person on the team to win the Front Range League Championships.”
Fairview, who won the team state title in 2019 and 2020 and finished runner-up in 2021, will certainly be in the mix for a championship once again as well. While the Knights boast just one top-ranking event with their 400 free relay and its 3:25.19 time, they house 21 of the top-20 times across the 11 swim events. Some other noteworthy performances have come in the 50 free (Amelia Mason, third, 23.86),100 butterfly (Mason, second, 55.07) and the 200 free relay (second, 1:35.97).
The Knights look especially dangerous within the 5A competition as they return a large number of past state qualifiers, strong senior leadership and a lot of depth in each event. They’re excited to be in what they expect to be a “fast, fun and furious” state meet with Legacy and other Boulder-area teams very much in the mix.
The 5A competition will kick off on Tuesday night and wrap up on Wednesday. Boulder County will also represent well in the 4A competition, which will run first out of the three classifications with diving and swim prelims beginning on Thursday.
Third-ranked Niwot looks especially strong within 4A but, thanks to the unfortunate drop of an incredibly strong Heritage team from 5A down to 4A, the Cougars will have to battle for second place. Head coach Kyle Bachrodt said that no other team can compete with Heritage, but plenty will be vying for that runner-up trophy. He believes that Niwot, Cheyenne Mountain, Pine Creek, Windsor, Golden and Broomfield will all have a good shot.
He believes his ladies will bring back exceptional talent, experience and ability to handle pressure well when they grace the state stage on Thursday night. That may just help them earn the second-place hardware they covet.
“This team has experience with the best of them,” Bachrodt said. “I think, above all else, this team and when you look at swimmers like Mary (Codevilla) and Jamieson (Legh), who have been state qualifiers since their freshman year, we certainly have the experience going into this meet. This team is not new to big-time meets.”
The Cougars hold nine top-three times heading into this weekend, thanks in large part to Codevilla and Legh. Codevilla boasts top marks in the 100 free (first, 50.71), 50 free (third, 24.11), 200 free (third, 1:53.81), 500 free (5:05.35), 200 IM (second, 2:02.56) and 100 breaststroke (fourth, 1:05.07). Legh, likewise, has dominated in the 50 free (fifth, 24.36), 100 back (second, 56.92) and the 100 fly (second, 56.72). Niwot also looks strong in the 200 free relay (second, 1:37.98) and the 400 free relay (third, 3:40.11).
Other local ranked teams include 5A’s No. 16 Monarch, 4A’s No. 10 Broomfield, No. 11 Silver Creek, No. 15 Longmont, No. 16 Centaurus, No. 17 Erie and 3A’s fifth-ranked Holy Family.
“This year is going to be a true competition,” Fairview coach Franny Bentley said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun, fast, motivated swimming, and when you look at the lineup, especially what’s coming out of Boulder County and Adams County, a lot of these girls are teammates in their year-round programs, but here they are racing for their high schools.”