High school girls swimmers across the state have had a challenging 2021 season as they compete through the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a bit of an extra challenge for Durango High School.
After losing access to the Fort Lewis College swimming pool, which is being turned into a weight facility, the Demons have had limited access to a pool this year at the Durango Community Recreation Center.
But the Demons have considered themselves lucky after they hosted a meet Saturday and will have another small home meet Thursday in preparation for next week’s league championships and the state championships March 12 in Thornton.
“The season, for the challenges we have faced so far, is going great,” DHS head coach Thomas Joyner said. “Finding pool time had initially been a challenge as well as even getting the go ahead from CHSAA to hold a season. Both of those factors, combined with the ongoing COVID uncertainties, made it hard to get a firm grasp on starting practices and the season. Now that we are underway, our swimmers and divers are making up for lost time and working hard for success.”
DHS has found success already this season. The roster boasts 31 athletes, the most Joyner has had in his tenure as head coach.
“We have most of our athletes swimming at or better than their best times from last year with comparatively little pool time,” Joyner said.
Durango already has three state qualifiers with McKenzie Rion in the 200-yard freestyle, Angie McManus in the 50-yard freestyle and Lexi Behn in diving.
Durango hosted Fruita Monument and Pagosa Springs on Saturday and saw a few big wins.
Rion, a junior, claimed the 200 free victory in 2 minutes, 6.64 seconds. Fruita’s Emma Kimbrough was second in 2:10.10, while Durango’s Maren Clay was third in 2:20.85.
McManus, also a junior, was the winner in the 50 free in 26.61 seconds. That was nearly two seconds faster than Anastacia Shaw of Fruita, who finished in 28.41. Shianna Casey of Fruita was third in 29.36 in front of a slew of Demons. Elaina Short was fourth in 29.96, Ella Stevens was fifth in 30.87, Hannah Garvey placed sixth in 31.46, Weiming Lambert was seventh in 31.64 and Aleah Austin was eighth in 31.70.
Behn was a force in one-meter diving with a score of 313.35. Keely Hagee of Fruita was second with a final score of 291.35, and Madison LeSage of Durango was third at 270.67.
Erin Knight claimed victory for Durango in the 500 free in a Demons podium sweep. She finished in 5:52.91. McManus was second in 5:55.86, and Clay was third in 6:06.81.
Abby Bowman of Durango placed third in the 100 free. The sophomore touched the wall in 1:02.92. Kendyll Wilkinson of Fruita was first in 58.38, while Fruita’s Taylor Wall was second narrowly ahead of Bowman in 1:02.79.
Durango’s 200 free relay squad of Paige Stillwaugh, Kathryn Edwards, Short and Bowman placed second in 2:02.00. Fruita won the relay in 1:59.96.
Stevens placed third in the 100 backstroke for DHS in 1:06.58. Fruita’s Eliza Codner won that event in 1:03.15, while fellow Wildcat Wilkinson was second in 1:03.42. Durango’s Stillwaugh and Elyza Baumchen finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Durango’s 400 freestyle relay team closed out the day with a second-place finish in 4:10.01 behind Fruita’s winning time of 3:56.65. Durango’s team was made up of Bowman, Clay, Rio and McManus.
DHS will have a small home meet Thursday before the regular-season finale Saturday at Montrose. Then it is the league championships before state.