For Lewis-Palmer sophomore Becca Hetrick, the stress of standing aboard the 1-meter diving board inside Cheyenne Mountain High School on Saturday afternoon was slim in comparison to her advanced placement European class final exam.
After spending the past week cramming, studying and taking a bunch of final exams, Hetrick capped off a long couple of days by winning the event at the Cheyenne Mountain Invitational with 317.20 points. Lewis-Palmer won the 16-team invitational with a combined 579 points.
Hetrick displayed poise with a 30.6-point reverse dive in the preliminaries before landing a forward 2? dive, for the first time, during the championship round.
It was Hetrick's third consecutive victory.
"I'm just glad I threw the 2?," Hetrick said. "I had been working on those and it was really hard."
Coach Alan Arata said it is a dive that will help Hetrick eventually qualify for the state meet.
"That was big for us," Arata said. "We put a lot of emphasis on diving. I'm just very proud of those girls standing up and doing what they're doing."
It was Lewis-Palmer's only individual victory of the meet, but the Rangers used eight top-three finishes to hold off rival Cheyenne Mountain (505) and Sydney Buckley.
"It's a weird kind of win, honestly," Arata said. "This is the first time we needed every swimmer to go out there and do their thing. For the girls, there was a lot of pride in that."
Not only did Buckley win the 100 butterfly in 57.89 seconds, but she teamed with Maggie York, Rhyann Lowrey and Katie Liebscher to set a Cheyenne Mountain Invitational record by winning the 400 freestyle relay in 3 minutes, 40.13 seconds.
Emily Dolloff-Holt (100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley) and Veronica Morin (50 freestyle and 100 freestyle) won four events for fourth-place Manitou Springs (299). Valor Christian placed third with 324 points.
L-P's Olga Britton teamed with Cori Dech, Andie Turner and Julie Day to place third in the 400 freestyle relay. She, too, admitted it was a difficult week for her and the Rangers because of finals.
"It's been kind of stressful," Britton said. "A lot of people have been trying to get finals done and not gone to practice, but the past few days we pulled it together and got it done obviously.
Arata agreed finals week was certainly taxing on his team, but added that it has been a tiresome stretch for Pikes Peak area teams due to the Thanksgiving break and weather closures in December. Regardless, for many of the girls swimming and diving can be a mental escape from the classroom.
"Sometimes I think the release of having all (finals) done makes them swim really great," Arata said. "We didn't swim great, but we certainly didn't swim poorly. The release of the finals is starting to set in and by Monday they are going to be feeling really good."
Britton, who was thankful to get her AP chemistry final out of the way, concluded it will be nice to finally exhale after a long, but successful week in and out of the pool.
"It just feels good after having so much stress," Britton said. "Now it's over and our break can really start."