With low numbers, SHS swimmers shoot for state
FARMER’S KORNER – The girls have vacated the premises, and now it’s the boys turn to test the waters in the Summit High School pool.
Mike Rathgeber has taken over as the SHS boys swimming head coach, a year after he coached the divers. Rathgeber said his first SHS swim team is going to put in some work.”We’re swimming five to six thousand yards a day, six days a week,” said Rathgeber, who’s coached the SHS boys basketball team for the past three seasons. “Last year they were probably swimming three to four.”The team is dealing with the perennial problem of low numbers, but Rathgeber said that just means each swimmer will be focusing more on his personal goals as opposed to a more team-oriented goal.”There will be meets we can’t mathematically win,” Rathgeber said. “So we just have to be more aggressive with our individual performances, and look toward states.”
Despite the extra work they’ve had to put in, the Summit swimmers have responded positively to the coaching change.”These practices are way more extreme than last year,” senior freestyle and backstroke swimmer Marc Miller said. “(Rathgeber’s) hard, but everybody likes him. There’s no quitters on this team. They all got weeded out the first week.”In his final season, Miller has stepped in as the vocal leader of the team. Standing at 6 foot 6, the lanky senior has a good vantage point from which to command his teammates. Before Thursday’s practice, Miller was doing his best to convince his shaggy-haired teammates to get haircuts as soon as possible.”If we’re going to be a team, we have to look like a team,” Miller said.”This is Marc’s team – no mistake about it,” Rathgeber said. Because the team will have a hard time winning many meets, the Tigers will try to qualify as many swimmers as possible for the state championships in May. Last season, the graduated Eric Lowe was the only Tiger to make the state meet individually. The 400 freestyle relay team also qualified. Rathgeber believes this team can send a bigger group to the championships. “Every relay team has a legitimate shot at making state,” Rathgeber said. “Miller and (David) Shaffer have a good chance, and Tim Gurule was the Jeffco JV champion diver last year.”
“Eric was so out of reach of the rest of us last year, we just quit chasing him,” Miller said. “It will be more than just one guy this year.”Gurule, a junior, is one of three Summit divers this year. In his second year diving, Gurule likes the change in atmosphere Rathgeber has instilled.”Last year, every day was the worst day of my life,” Gurule said. “This year, we’re working our (butts) off. We’re enjoying it.”The regular season begins today for the Tigers, who travel to Lakewood for a dual meet at 4 p.m. Rathgeber is hoping to see immediate results from the Summit swimmers.”I’m setting the bar high,” Rathgber said. “I’m hoping to see times that are within 90 percent of their best times last year.”Andy Frame can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at email@example.com.
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