Records fell and championship meet rookies turned in promising performances for the Durango Swim Club at the MAValanche swim meet last weekend in Grand Junction.
Three Durango Swim Club members set new club records to help the team to 1,505.5 points and a fifth-place finish at the meet. Aspen Swim Club won the meet with 3,170 points. The meet was held at the Colorado Mesa University pool.
Haley Benjamin, a University of Houston signee, set seven new records, Warner Becher set two new records and Emmett Stottlemyer set one of his own.
Benjamin set club records in the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle, 100 and 200 butterfly, 200 backstroke and 200 individual medley. Four of the records she broke were her own which she set in 2017. Brooke Kniffin held the previous records for the 50 freestyle and 200 backstroke, set in 2014 and 2013, respectively. Violet Witchel held the previous mark in the 100 freestyle, which she set in 2017.
Benjamin also set a pool record in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4 minutes, 55.25 seconds. The previous record was set by Alecia McGilliviray of Lindenwood University in 2016. McGilliviray’s time was 4:56.17.
Becher set records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke. Both previous records were set by Josh Miller in 2012.
Stottlemyer broke Robert Stafford’s 10-year-old record in the 500 freestyle.
Friday’s events at the meet consisted of longer distance races, and, at the end of the day, DSC was in the overall lead.
Benjamin, Quinn Schmidt and Mina Willemin swept the 500 freestyle in the 15-and-over division, and Torey Duran won the 500 freestyle in the 13-14 age group.
In the mile event, Schmidt, a freshman at Durango High School, dropped 19 seconds off her personal best to finish in 18:40.62, which was the second fastest time for the 15-16 age group in DSC history. It was also enough to qualify her for the Senior Sectionals meet, which consists of the Four Corners states, in March in Phoenix.
Saturday’s events consisted of shorter distances, and the DSC’s girls 200 freestyle relay team scored a big win ahead of powerhouse Aspen Swim Club with a time of 1:43.48, just 0.22 seconds ahead of ASC.
The DSC boys team won the 200 freestyle as well, as they bested the Montrose Marlins by two full seconds with a time of 1:32.5.
Miller Middle School eighth-grader McKenzie Rion qualified for the finals in the 100 and 200 backstroke, 50 and 100 freestyle, and 200 individual medley.
“I love working with McKenzie,” DSC head coach Alex Martinek said in an email to The Durango Herald. “One day at practice she told me, ‘Alex I figured it out. If I just swim hard until my arms feel like they’re going to fall, off then they just go numb and I start swimming really fast.’ Talking about work ethic is never something I have to do with her and finding someone that gets excited to train hard is always going to be a treat to work with.”
It was the first championship meet for Lyza Baumchen (12), Olivia Becher (10), Alex Burns (11), Brinley Duran (4), Emma Hohan (11), Larkyn Sarver (10), Teagan Sarver (7) and Denny Woods (9), and all the first timers had huge time drops, with several qualifying for finals.
Hohan qualified for finals in the 50 butterfly and the 50 backstroke.
Chloe Cook (12) also made it back for finals in the 50 backstroke, 50 butterfly, and 100 and 200 freestyle.
Larkyn Sarver scored eight points for the team. She scored seven of those points in her 200 freestyle and dropped almost a minute from her previous time to finish 10th. Becher was right behind Larkyn Sarver in the 200 freestyle and dropped 32 seconds to place 12th.
Erin Knight, a 13-year-old student at Miller Middle School, reached the finals in the 200 backstroke and cut four seconds off her previous personal best to place 16th.
DSC will next compete at the Farmington Invite Jan. 20-21 in Farmington.