SHS state swimming team a mix of youth and experience
FARMER’S KORNER – The experience that Summit High School juniors Pete Richmond and Eric Lowe carry into this weekend’s Class 4A State Swimming Championships in Loveland will help not only them, but also their younger teammates.
This will be the third trip to state for Richmond and Lowe. The other four Summit state qualifiers – Josh Gammel, David Shaffer, Marc Miller and John McGee – are first-timers.
Gammel recently earned a spot on the 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relay teams alongside juniors Lowe, Richmond and McGee. Having the upperclassmen by his side should provide Gammel a model for how to approach the climax meet of the season.
“This weekend I’m going to get a chance to learn and see a lot of good, more experienced swimmers,” Gammel said. “It will be a good learning experience for me.”
Gammel edged out Kyle Ahern for a spot on the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams with a solid performance at last weekend’s Jeffco League Championships. Despite his youth, Gammel is an experienced swimmer. Ahern, a junior, is in his first year of competitive swimming.
“I’m pretty happy how Josh got the fourth spot,” Richmond said. “We can talk to him if he’s nervous or whatever. Eric and I, when we’re at state, we usually don’t get that nervous. Maybe Josh will get a little nervous, but I think he’ll do fine.”
Gammel also will swim the medley relay with Shaffer, Miller and McGee.
Summit’s relays will need season bests to reach Saturday’s finals and score any points for the Tigers. The top 16 advance out of preliminaries and earn team points. Summit’s medley relay team goes into the meet with the 26th fastest time. The 400 relay is seeded 22nd, and the 200 relay is 21st.
Even if they don’t score points, however, Summit coach Graig Fischer is excited about the experience his swimmers will get, especially since all should return to the team next year.
He deliberately put underclassmen – Gammel and sophomores Miller and Shaffer – on the medley relay team so they could get a taste of state-level competition.
“The nice thing about it is they all return a year from now,” Fischer said. “And that’s one of the reasons that we looked down the road a bit, to get that experience.”
Richmond holds Summit’s best chance of scoring team points and even bringing home a state championship. He carries the fifth best time in the 50 free and the sixth best in the 100 free. He was 12th in the 100 at state a year ago and said, of the two races, the 50 is more up for grabs this year.
“In the 50, the first-place guy beats me by less than a second,” Richmond said. “So that will be close. It will just come down to who has had the best training and tapered the best. I think it’s anybody’s race.”
Lowe will swim the 200 free and the 500 free, where he is seeded 22nd and 25th, respectively. Unlike years past, both he and Richmond qualified for their events early in the season, and they’ve been concentrating on this weekend’s meet ever since.
“They’ve had a chance to focus (on state) a little bit more,” Fischer said of Lowe and Richmond. “We’ve been training a little bit harder and more consistently because of it.
“They ought to have all the confidence in the world going into this meet.”
The Tigers were 14th as a team a year ago. Fischer is hoping to match that this season.
“We think that top 15 is very reasonable to expect,” he said. “If we swim really well, it’s possible to get into the top 10.”
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