PUEBLO – Rumor has it that the six lanes in the natatorium at Pueblo County High School are just a little shorter than most other pools. Swimmers constantly rave about the personal-best times they’re able to achieve in that particular venue.
The same apparently holds true for divers.
“There’s a myth that the board is two inches higher than all the rest,” said Palmer senior Taylor Walsh, who won the diving competition. “But I think it’s all in our heads.”
Walsh, a gymnast for 13 years before taking up diving three years ago, set a school and personal record with 453.4 points, coming within two points of setting the pool record.
Speaking of pool records, Cheyenne Mountain put its name in the Hornet Invite books twice, starting and finishing with blistering performances. It was all part of a historic day in which the Indians won the team title for the fourth straight year, leading wire to wire, and finishing with 338 points to Rampart’s 189. Discovery Canyon placed third with 171 points.
“It was in our wildest dreams; it was a goal for us,” Indians coach Kate Doane said, referring to the two pool records. “They just love the atmosphere here, working with each other and working toward a goal. It’s fun to win.”
The Indians, third at last season’s 4A state meet, shattered the 200-yard medley relay record by nearly 3 seconds. The foursome of Emily Bauer, Katie Roach, Sydney Buckley and Olivia Gach clocked a time of 1 minute, 49.87 seconds, breaking the previous record, also held by Cheyenne Mountain, of 1:52.76.
Roach was just getting started.
In the next race, the senior roared to a nearly 3-second victory in the 200 freestyle. Later, Roach finished as she began, claiming victory in the 100 breaststroke and helping the Indians rally by swimming a dominant second leg in the day’s final event, the 400 free relay.
By the time Buckley touched to complete the relay, the team stopped the clock in 3:38.23, .44 better than the previous time held by Rampart.
“I had the first two events and the last two events, and by the end, I had to muscle through it,” Roach said. “I knew it was possible, but I knew going in there were a lot of good swimmers. It’s awesome. I’m happy with my times and happy to help each other."
The momentum of the first two races seemed to have a contagious effect on the rest of the team. In the third event, Indians junior Morgan Wice touched first in the 50 free, and later in the 500 free, sophomore Rhyann Lowrey held off Discovery Canyon senior Kelsey Oettinger by 0.56 seconds in one of the day’s most thrilling finishes.
Cheyenne Mountain captured the 200 free relay, too, helped by Buckley and Wice. Buckley swam in all three victorious relays.
Overall, the Indians took the top step on the podium in seven of 12 events.
Doherty senior and four-time state 5A qualifier Sarah James took first in her signature event, the 100 backstroke, rallying past Pueblo South’s Mary Saiz by 0.70 seconds.