The Durango Swim Club took its youth swimmers to Wednesday’s talent-loaded Grand Junction Invite and showed improvement from last year’s impressive effort.
The Durango squad matched up with more than 600 swimmers from Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Durango finished 12th out of 34 teams with 355.5 points after taking 13th the previous year with 244 points.
Haley Benjamin swam to victory in the 400-meter freestyle with a time of 4 minutes, 25.04 seconds. Though it was shy of last year’s Olympic Trials qualifying time of 4:22.88, Benjamin is right there again this year and has her sights set on Junior Nationals.
“We wanted to hit that Olympic Trials time all year,” Durango Swim Club head coach Alex Martinek said in an email to The Durango Herald. “This year our focus is Junior Nationals in August. To see a time like what she swam this weekend when we are trying to peak in August is very exciting.”
Durango 14-year-old Quinn Schmidt barely missed team records in the 200 backstroke and 200 breaststroke, but smashed the 1,500-meter freestyle mark with a time of 19:25.90.
“(Quinn) dropped almost a full minute from her previous best time,” Martinek said. “We’ve got some fine tuning to do for this race before we head back to Grand Junction in a couple more weeks for the Western Slope Championships.”
Emmett Stottlemeyer is turning heads in his first year competing for the Durango Swim Club. Stottlemeyer had a successful year for the Durango High School swim team and decided to join the swim club to take on elite competition. He qualified for finals in the 200 and 400-meter freestyles, the 100-meter breaststroke and the 200-meter individual medley.
Stottlemeyer impressed the Colorado Mesa University Head Coach and might have swam his way to an opportunity to compete at the next level.
“It’s really cool to see a university coach approach someone who is just getting started,” Martinek said.
“He saw some malleable talent and I think he knows he could use someone like Emmett. There’s a lot of kids just like Emmett who could compete in their respective sports in college but, they’ve never been given the avenues or the push to want to pursue those options.”