The Telluride Torpedoes head to the Seasonal State swim meet this weekend in Ouray. This year, 25 swimmers from the Torpedoes qualified for the meet. Of those 25 who qualified, 20 will be attending.
“We’ve been working so hard for this meet,” head coach Lisa Ball said. “The 20 kids that are going are in great shape and really excited to be going. And the fact that it’s so close. We’re really psyched.”
In order to compete in the state meet, swimmers must have completed a race in under a certain time standard at an earlier meet this season. Each event has different time requirements and a swimmer must qualify separately for every event in which they wish to compete.
The Telluride Torpedoes participated in five regional meets before heading into states. Although swimming is a summer sport in Telluride, many of the teams that they compete against at meets across the Western Slope are year-round clubs, Ball explained.
For the state meet in Ouray, however, only swim teams who practice exclusively in the summer months are invited. In Colorado, there is also a long course state meet, but the qualifying times are very challenging as Telluride swimmers have to compete with teams that practice year-round. In Ouray, the competition is more equal for the local swim club.
“It’s a really great meet for us to go to because it’s a very fair field,” Ball said.
Seasonal states also allow the Torpedoes to race against teams outside of the Western Slope.
“This state meet is cool because we see clubs on the Front Range that we don’t get to compete with the rest of the year,” Ball said.
Team captain Lila Renke is excited about the opportunity to showcase the team’s skills this weekend.
“It’s the biggest meet of the year for us. Since we’re a seasonal team, this is a chance for us to really show what we can do,” Renke said.
Summer season is a relative term at 8,750 feet. The Telluride Torpedoes began their summer practices in mid-May, when Telluride was still experiencing winter weather. The first two weeks, team members swam in the snow. As team captain, Renke is in charge of keeping the team’s attitudes high, even in the snow.
“It’s really just about keeping everyone in a positive mental state and staying excited about swimming,” Renke said.
Though this is Renke’s first year as a team captain, the 15 year old has been swimming with the Torpedoes for nine years.
“Lila comes to practice everyday with excitement to swim, a positive attitude and a willingness to practice hard,” Ball said.
This year, the Telluride Torpedoes have 42 swimmers total, of which 28 are returners. Swimmers on the co-ed team range in age from 5-16. Ball has coached the Torpedoes for the past 16 years. When she started, there were only 20 swimmers. Since her early days, that number has doubled.
“We swam in a pool that was four feet deep and 20 feet long, so we’ve come a long way,” said Ball.
To accommodate the growth, Ball worked to expand the swimming facilities. The Torpedoes now practice in the pool at Town Park. After the new pool was built, the swim team held a swim-a-thon to purchase diving blocks, swim lanes and timing devices so they could host swim meets. This June was the fourth time the Torpedoes hosted a meet on their home turf. Alicia Pfaff joined the Torpedoes this summer as the new assistant coach.
For the state meet, swimmers Alec Hattler and Booker O’Dell each qualified in 10 events. Lila Renke and Camden Thomas will swim in nine; Henry Deppen in eight; Amber Bockrath and Teagan O’Dell in seven; Gabriel Lynch Gunnar Drew and Griffin Bain in five; Calista Hattler and Magnolia Mahoney in four; Hazel Thomas in the three; Morgan Watkinson, Eldora Bain and Mia Hattler in two; and Sophia McNamara, Colton Petit, Wylee Drew, Leo Deppen in one event each. Delia and Hazel Noel, Rita and Molly Hynes, and Bode Starr all qualified, but will not be attending the state meet.
The meet is Friday through Sunday. Events run between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Ouray is a quick trip from Telluride, and anyone interested is encouraged to come out and support the Telluride Torpedoes, Ball said.
“The fact that it’s so close, we’re hoping that people just stumble by,” Ball said.