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Experienced team looks for way back to championship contention


December 1, 2016

Photo by Ed Navarro Niwot Girls Swimming seniors: Front row (l to r): Madeline Michels, Gracie Leslie, Emily Greenspan, Jenna McCaffrey, Erin Coyle; Back Row: Bri Cole, Hana Hemstreet, Eva Kitlen, Audrey Ryan, Camryn Kenkel, Megan Williams and Chase Balman. Seniors not pictured: Madison Barkow, Karla Gomez-Garcia, Kenzi Kirby, Mary Lang, Grace Lettow, Ella Lorck-Schierning, Taylor Millett and Georgina Ratliff.

Despite a 25th-place finish at last year’s Class 4A State Championship meet, Niwot girls swimming head coach Sarah Stamp doesn’t think her team is in a rebuilding mode.

“If you look at our season last year, we placed in the top five at invites and won most of our duals,” she said. “We had a lot of strong swimmers, just not enough to get us to that top ten placement at state,”

Coach Stamp, however, is optimistic that this year she has the depth that will help her team down the stretch.

“Overall we have a lot coming back and a solid group of freshman joining us this season, which should help us when we get to the conference and state meet,” said the coach.

This year’s full team consists of 68 swimmers, about the same as last year. Seven of last season’s ten state qualifiers are returning to the team, including senior diver Madison Barkow, who placed sixth at last year’s state meet, after third- place finishes the two previous years. Stamp said Barkow, who spent part of last season rehabbing an injury that kept her from competing for the gymnastics team, has been preparing for a strong return to form.

“We’re looking to refine and perfect her difficult dive card,” said Stamp. “We want to build from where we were last season, and hopefully finish on a high note for her last season with us.”

Other returning state qualifiers include Claire Jepson (So.), Hanna Luo (So.), and Amalia Luthens (Jr.), whose time of 3:51:33 in the 400-yard freestyle relay at last year’s state meet was good for 16th place. Sophomore Isabel Mitchell, who qualified for state as a freshman member of the 200-yard relay team, was injured during the gymnastics season, and will not be available for the upcoming swim season.

Other returning swimmers include sophomores Kristi Vu, who was a state alternate last year, Ella Thramann, and Sydney Ryan; juniors Claire Shen, whose specialty is breaststroke, Christina Otte and Makaela Fauber; and seniors Audrey Ryan, and Jenna McCaffrey, who is coming off a top three finish at the Nike Cross National regional cross country meet on Nov. 19.

Stamp is also clearly excited about her incoming freshman class, and believes several have a chance to make an impact right away. Among them is Payten Irwin, whose specialty is the butterfly.

“Her times coming into high school are quite impressive,” said Stamp. “She will definitely be a positive addition to our team.”

Other freshman to watch include freestyle sprinters Grace Miller, Olivia Thramann, and Abbie Shaw, who also swims backstroke.

Ultimately, Stamp expects the mix of state meet experience and youth will propel this year’s team to a top ten finish at this season’s state meet in February.

“We’re hoping to get three strong relays into the top 16,” Stamp explained. “We have quite of bit of depth in our freshman group, and with our returning talent, I think we’ll be able to get that accomplished.”

Niwot’s first swimming event of the season is the Valley Viking Invite on Dec. 2-3, at Valley High School in Gilcrest, followed by the Coaches Invitational, which is open only to state qualifiers, on December 17. The Northern conference meet will be held at Mountain View High School on Feb. 3-4, and the state meet will be in Fort Collins on Feb. 10-11.


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