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Fossil girls swimming splashes state competition out of the water

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In the 200 Yard Individual Medley, competitors swim 50 yards each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and finally freestyle. Four Fossil students finished in the top eight in this event, spanning a freshman and three seniors. Photo Credit: Isabella Mahal

Loud. Hyped. History-making. There is really no other way to describe a swim meet, especially not one with Fossil Ridge High School competing, and certainly not the 5A state swim meet. The state championship held on Friday and Saturday, February 9 and 10, will be one for the books. Fossil’s girls broke three records at finals, won 10 of 12 total events, and became the best high school swim team in Colorado for the third time in the past four years.

This eventful day splashed into success when junior Coleen Gillilan and seniors Bayley Stewart, Zoe Bartel, and Kylee Alons broke not only the Colorado state record (set by the same swimmers in 2017), but the National high school record for the 200 Yard Medley Relay. With the National record in sight since state last year, the swimmers pushed themselves even harder on Saturday after the record was broken the previous day, getting their time down to 1:38.13, six tenths of a second faster than the record set on Friday. To continue the team’s path to a championship, CJ Kovac, senior, placed seventh in the 200 Freestyle with a time of 1:55.27, while Gillilan won the event with 1:46.98.

The 200 Yard Medley Relay team that broke the national record climbs on the podium. Zoe Bartel explained that the team is as strong as it is because they have persevered through setbacks together. They’ve been chasing the record that they swam in at the meet for two years running. Photo Credit: Isabella Mahal

Fossil then proved their dominance in the swimming world when four of their swimmers placed in the top 8 for the 200 IM. Freshman Mahala Erlandson swam a 2:09.81 to receive 8th place, senior Andrea Nieman was at 2:06.92 for fourth place, Stewart was in third with 2:04.49, and Bartel was way ahead of the competition in first with a time of 1:59.17. On a seemingly impossible to stop winning streak, Fossil won the fourth event in a row when Alons placed first for the second year in a row with a time of 22.91 seconds in the 50 Freestyle, and senior Madeleine Mason finished in 5th with a time of 24.22 seconds. Alons’ time was merely half a second away from the Colorado state record of 22.41 seconds, set by Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin in 2011.

Bayley Stewart and Zoe Bartel embrace after finishing third and first in the 200 Yard IM. Swimmers can usually see their relative position to the other girls when they are racing, which can either serve to be demoralizing or can push them to go faster. Photo Credit: Isabella Mahal

After sweeping the first hour of the meet, Fossil took a break while the diving event occurred. Junior Alexia Dellinger participated in the diving semifinals on Saturday morning but did not move on to the finals in the afternoon. The only other event Fossil did not win was the 500 freestyle, in which freshman Emily Rinker swam a time of 5:21.01, and Kovac came in seventh at 5:14.99. Rinker stated that as a freshman at state she felt, “a little small compared to everyone else, but it’s fine, and it’s fun.” Rinker also swam in the 100 yard backstroke alongside Nieman and Stewart. Rinker had a time of 59.08 seconds, Nieman 58.37 seconds, and Stewart 54.15 seconds to win the event.

In the 100 yard butterfly, Gillilan received a two-peat state title and won her second individual event by swimming in 52.57 seconds. Her teammates, sophomores Caraline Baker and Emma Stahl, received 3rd and 8th place, respectively, with times of 55.85 seconds and 57.97 seconds. Alons also placed first in another individual event, the 100 yard freestyle, with a time of 49.64 seconds. Swimming with her was senior Phoebe Huey in 8th place at 53.17 seconds and Mason in 5th place at 52.37 seconds. Bartel won the 100 yard breaststroke after winning it and setting a new state record last year by swimming a time of 1:00.47. Baker was just two seconds behind her in second place with a time of 1:02.91, and Erlandson swam a 1:07.03.

Fossil’s relay teams dominated the competition, having already begun their next leg with a splash while the other teams were just entering the water. Photo Credit: Isabella Mahal

For Bartel, winning all her events was an amazing feeling. She stated, “We’ve had a lot of hard things to go through in the past couple of weeks. Various things were going wrong and to have it all come together was really great.” Bartel was additionally named the 2018 Swimmer of the Year. Before swimming, Bartel clears her mind and “lets my body do the racing. I’ve done this so many times at this point that for me it’s better to just do what I know and not over think it.”

Everyone is constantly pushing each other to be faster, not just beat each other.”

— Zoe Bartel

Rounding out their wins for the night was the record-setting 200 freestyle relay and almost record-breaking 400 freestyle relay. For the 200 freestyle, Gillilan, Mason, Niemann, and Baker set the new record at 1:34.16, narrowly under the previous record of 1:34.40 set in 2011. In the 400 freestyle relay, Fossil received a time of 3:22.58, coming impeccable close to the 3:22.42 record set in 2011. The final record Fossil set Saturday night was that of most points won in the state meet. They finished with 424 points, 105 points higher than second place winners Fairview High School, and 25 points higher than the previous record set by Cherry Creek High School in 2010.

Fossil does not pull off wins like this one simply by having many talented swimmers. They all work hard at practices most days of the week, even getting up before the sun rises to swim before school. At practice, they all push each other to be their very best, each and every day. Bartel said they try, “not just to be better than each other but to get people who are maybe only five hundredths behind you to be just that little bit more ahead of you. Everyone is constantly pushing each other to be faster, not just beat each other.” On top of practicing, the girls work hard to get to know one another, be better teammates, and show constant support. Huey says, “we’ve all bonded really well too and that’s helped us most of the time and the positivity and the energy is really high.”

The boys swim team has a strong tradition of support for their girls, and they dominated the stands, calling out “‘Sko Ridge” whenever it got quiet and cheering for each individual when they competed. The team has a unique point of view on the meet, because they understand how difficult it is to win state themselves. They’ve taken the last three state championships as a team. Photo Credit: Isabella Mahal

All the swimmers, even those who do not qualify for state, support their teammates by cheering them on or timing at the meet. Grace Geraghty, the team manager, said that timing, “is pretty exciting, but it’s hard not to start screaming or jump up and down,” because timers have to stay calm and professional. Fossil parents and students rock the stands with chants of “Fossil relay” and “Sko Ridge”, and cheer extra loud as the swimming finalists make their way to their starting positions to the beat of electronic hype music. It becomes quickly evident that Fossil fans have great pride in their swim team. As per tradition, the entire team jumped into the pool together after winning state, and with a team as strong as Fossil’s they have great potential to continue this tradition into their season next year.

About the Writer
Serena Bettis, Editor-in-Chief
Serena Bettis, senior, is entering into her third year on the Etched in Stone staff as this year’s Editor-in-Chief. A four year journalism student, she has high hopes for Etched in Stone this school year, and wants to be able to guide the staff in achieving their goals as much as possible. While Bettis has...
1 Comment

One Response to “Fossil girls swimming splashes state competition out of the water”

  1. Payton Lee on February 23rd, 2018 12:25 pm

    Hey anyone have the contact information of that guy on the right with the big black capital “E” painted on his chest? Asking for a friend.

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Fossil girls swimming splashes state competition out of the water