The Durango High School girls swimming team took on a lot this offseason, including 11 new faces to the program, but based off the first two events of the season, head coach Tom Joyner has a lot to be excited about.
The Demons finished in second overall out of six teams Friday at the Delta County Swim Meet with 347 points and placed third out of 10 teams on Saturday at the Southwest Conference Girls Relay Meet held at Colorado Mesa University, as they finished with 456 points.
“We’ve got a pretty strong contribution from the Durango Swim Club,” said head coach Tom Joyner. “Six out of the 11 girls joined us and we’re super excited that they have. They’ve already made a huge impact with our squad and based on these past few days, it’s going to be an exciting season.”
On Friday at Delta, out of the 12 events, seven swimmers and one diver registered state qualifying times. It’s just one of the many reasons Joyner is optimistic.
“That’s so great to see early on in the season,” Joyner said. “Because now that we got that out of our way, we can move toward improving our race strategy and improving our times with more work and practice.”
Quinn Schmidt, a sophomore, is one of the new faces who came over from DSC. She got off to winning ways from her first race. Schmidt won three out of the four races she competed in, which included the 200 yard individual medley, where she won the race with a time of 2 minutes, 21.95 seconds, which was 15 seconds ahead of the state qualifying time. Schmidt also won the 500 freestyle (5:26.13), was the anchor for the 200 free relay (1:50.64) and helped DHS finish in fourth in the 400 free relay (4:25.19).
“Last year, she was unable to make her schedule work, but this year she found a way,” said Joyner. “Seeing her come over from the club side and being able to contribute to our overall team success is exciting. It’s heartening to see that we can work together to make a big splash. She’s a super hard worker and in my mind, hard work always pays off ... It’s going to great to watch her compete throughout the year.”
Durango also has the returning Class 3A state diving champion in senior Kylie Behn, who scored 189.35 points to win the event, while her sister, Alexis, a freshman, was in second place with a score of 175.05.
“We’ve got more than a few speedsters out there already, which is great to see,” Joyner said.
DHS will have other promising swimmers to watch out for, as a group of four freshmen, including Rachel Thilow, had a stellar first weekend. Thilow came in second in both the 100 butterfly (1:07.91) and the 100 freestyle (1:00.50). Joining her will be Mckenzie Rion, who came in third in the 100 backstroke (1:11.68), Angela McManus, who took second in the 200 free (2:21.65) and Erin Knight, who took third in the 500 free (5:54.03).
“I’m excited to see just where we can go in the next four years,” Joyner said. “Really, the sky is the limit with this group and by the time they’re seniors, I’m hoping we’ve got another crop of ladies coming up. But they’re going to be an asset to our squad and will give us the depth that we haven’t had in the past few years.”
On Saturday at Mesa, the highest finish DHS had was second in the 200 medley relay, which was led by the four freshmen (2:06.10) and also the 200 butterfly relay, which consisted of Thilow, Morgan Mallonee, Saylor Stottlemyer and Schmidt (2:14.15). Durango fared well in the diving again as the Behn sisters had a 1-2 finish as they both finished with 191.70 points.
Joyner said he is excited to see where this year’s squad can go.
“I think this team can surprise some people and we’ve got strong swimmers up and down our roster,” Joyner said. “We’ve got great depth, a lot of young, promising girls and we’re just really excited now that the season is back.”
Durango will host its first of two home meets against Pagosa Springs at 5 p.m. Friday at the Durango Community Recreation Center.