Telluride Torpedoes swimmer Lila Renke won a pair of prestigious statewide honors over the weekend at the annual Colorado Swimming Swimposium in Denver.
Renke, a longtime member of the Telluride swim club, was named the Seasonal Swim Female Athlete of the Year— the top female swimmer among the summer clubs in Colorado. Club coaches voted on the award, along with the swimmers themselves, who cast one ballot per team.
Renke, 16, also was selected as the Seasonal Representative of the Year. As such, she will represent all the swimmers (male and female) in the Colorado seasonal network at the annual Colorado Swimming House of Delegates meetings.
“Both of these honors are amazing,” said Lisa Ball, head coach of the Telluride Torpedoes. “Beyond the swimming, it’s great for an athlete to be involved as the voice of the swimmers.”
Ball said Renke will reach out to other teams to learn what they like and what they don’t like as the representative.
“She can give this to the (House of Delegates),” Ball said.
The Torpedoes coach said Renke served as a team captain for the Telluride swimmers this year, a recognition of her leadership.
“She has a great passion for swimming,” Ball said. “She brings a positive attitude to all the (practices and meets). She takes time to help the younger swimmers.”
Renke’s talents in the swimming pool are versatile, according to her coach.
“She is unique in that she is both a good sprinter and a good distance swimmer,” Ball said.
“I really enjoy distance swimming, and I really enjoy backstroke,” Renke said.
For her, it’s a matter of doing what she’s enjoyed since she first jumped into a Telluride Torpedoes’ practice session at age 8.
“From the moment of my first practice, I loved swimming,” the Telluride High School junior said. “It was unlike anything I’d ever done. I really wasn’t expecting that.”
But, there’s more.
“For me, it’s an outlet. A nice escape,” Renke said. “When I’m in the water, I don’t have to hear anybody else. I don’t have to listen to anyone.”
Plus, she said, she is constantly challenged — as an individual — in the pool.
“My coach really pushes me in practice. She’s one of the reason I love swimming so much,” said Renke, the daughter of Kristen Permakoff and Keith Renke.
The Telluride native also had the opportunity to swim with a pair of former Olympians while at the Swimposium in Denver last week.
Misty Hyman, the Olympic gold medalist in the 200-meter butterfly at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games, addressed Renke and her colleagues, along with Katie Meili, the bronze medalist in the 100-meter breaststroke for the United States at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. Meili also won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships in the 100 meter breaststroke.
“They are so knowledgeable,” Renke said. “Their stroke technique is perfect. I’d watch them and think, ‘How can you be that good?’”
She said the Olympic swimmers also talked about pre-event jitters and nerves.
“They said that if you get really nervous, it means you really care about what you’re doing,” said Renke, who is admittedly nervous before races.
She said the experience of serving as a representative to the House of Delegates is empowering.
“Being around people who love swimming … was really cool,” Renke said. “Everyone was so engaged. It was a learning experience.”
The Telluride Torpedo said she can’t wait for the next meeting and a chance to engage with the hierarchy of Colorado swimming.
Renke also is eagerly pursuing an opportunity to swim in college. She’s already visited a pair of swim powerhouses in Florida, including the University of Tampa.
“I would really like to swim in college,” she said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Her Telluride coach sees a stellar future for her as well.
“She’s always had the passion. I’m so proud of her,” Ball said. “It’s been fun to watch her grow.”