With just fewer than half its qualified swimmers attending last weekend's Western Slope Championships, the Durango Swim Club took a glass-half-full approach.
Only 31 swimmers, ages 6 to 18, made the trip to Grand Junction, but the team persevered for a fifth-place finish with 1270.5 points behind champions Montrose, runners-up Grand Junction, third-place Sopris and fourth-place Steamboat Springs.
Durango qualified more swimmers for the meet - 68 - than any other squad. A variety of events led to a small turnout, however, according to a news release sent by coach John Gadbois to The Durango Herald.
"Overall, it was a very good meet for us," Gadbois said. "It was brutally hot over the weekend, yet our kids managed the heat very well and continued to swim fast."
Montrose was the runaway winner, Gadbois said, "based on their superior depth in the younger age groups."
In a tune-up for this weekend's Colorado Swimming Incorporated Championship meet in Fort Collins, Teale Kitson won the 200 freestyle, 400 free and 200 backstroke, and he was one quarter of a group of seasoned Durango seniors (with Robert Stafford, Carl Sallee and Kalen Dear) that earned two relay wins.
Gadbois said Stafford was in superior form in his final meet before heading off to the college ranks at Division II St. Cloud State.
Carl Sallee and Lauren Dody both won their respective 200 fly events, with Dody making it a second consecutive title in the discipline while "running away from the field in the last 50 meters," Gadbois said.
Anne Mummery finished top three in six events while swimming in her first championship meet at any level.
"She continues to improve rapidly," Gadbois said.
Bonne Matheson also had a breakout performance with her third-place finish in the 200 breaststroke. Matheson expanded her repertoire, Gadbois said, by dabbling in some freestyle events for the first time.
Megan Cooksey received third in the 100 breast, "surprising everyone from an outside lane," Gadbois said.
Jesse Rubenstein was second in his age group in the 200 and 400 freestyles.
"He's considerably faster than Teale and Robert were at the same age, and so we look for continued excellence from him," Gadbois said.
Adding to Durango's highlights, Haley Cotgageorge dropped her time considerably in the 100 fly.
Although Stafford will be gone, Gadbois is optimistic about his team's future.
"I was very encouraged by the way the team conducted themselves, and look forward to next season," Gadbois said. "When we are able to put our whole team together, we are solid from top to bottom, across all events.
"I think it is very possible we could have 85 or more qualifiers for the championships in the coming year."