The Grand County High School swim team rose to a new challenge in the 3A classification at the Feb. 8 state championship meet — as the girls placed ninth out of 21 teams with 87 points, and the boys placed fifth with 169 points.
For the combined team, however, the personal records set by many of the swimmers showed their true successes.
“Overall, it was a great season,” said head coach Brian Pierce. “We didn’t really know what to expect going into our first 3A season. Everyone, for the most part, dropped times this year. “Out of the 16 kids that swam individual events, 15 of them had at least one personal record or they helped a relay drop time. They’re always excited when they drop time. That’s the biggest focus for them.”
When it came to how the team handled the pressure of a larger, faster classification, Pierce said, “They kept it together. They were able to swim under pressure like it was no big deal. They all remained focused and kept on plugging away.”
“Mostly what I was nervous for was how we would adapt to a different pool,” said junior team captain Braxten Pierce. Pierce managed to overcome his nerves to win both of his individual events, the 200-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle. He added, “The taking state part is fun, but mostly I focus on trying to beat my own times.”
For Pierce, a meet such as state is a full-team effort.
“One of my favorite things is, since [we’re] such a close team, you have everyone cheering for everyone during every race,” Pierce said. “If one person wins, you feel like the whole team has won.”
In one of the most exciting events of the meet, Pierce and teammates Corbin Arbon, Alex Lacy and Connor Ainge swam a tight race against Grantsville High School to place second in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
“It was intense. It was really nerve-wracking,” Arbon said. “We weren’t ranked that high, and we just really showed up and took second place and did really well.” Arbon continued, “When Braxten swam his 100, and we were leading, we were like oh-my-gosh, we can place, we can do this.”
The boys swam the event in a time of 3:36.92, setting a new team record.
Setting an impressive personal record, senior Tyler Moreau dropped 26 seconds in his 500-yard freestyle, taking ninth place in the event with a time of 6:04.99. Giving credit to his training, he said, “I’m really glad that I had [my] coaches ... they were really great, the best coaches I’ve ever had.”
Senior captain Brooklin Hugentobler was satisfied with the team’s performance at the tournament, saying, “I thought the meet was really fun, and it was a good last hurrah for me and the team. Everyone did really well.”
Hugentobler achieved a personal record in her 50-yard freestyle with a time of 29.56 seconds.
“I’ve kind of struggled with my times all season, and it was great to stay with it and have personal records in my events,” Hugentobler added. Giving advice to the team next year, she said, “Keep working, even though it’s hard, because it will pay off ... and have fun.”
Reflecting on the team’s leadership this season, Arbon said, “I thought they were pretty good captains and seniors and we will miss them next year. I kind of wish it wasn’t quite over.”