The girls’ team, which begins its season Dec. 4, finished second in their league last year. Durango, first in regionals, and Glenwood Springs, which came in third, both had good teams, but it’s too soon to tell who will be stronger this year.
“Last year they were a very small group but very talented, and were successful enough to win 10 of 12 swimming events, but we didn’t have the depth to beat Durango,” he said.
Depth won’t be a problem, this year though, with a large contingent of talented freshmen and strong upperclassmen, or women, for total of 18 to 20 swimmers and three or four divers, he said.
“We just had our first practice last Friday, so obviously it’s way to early to tell” what the season will be like, Almgren said, or how the league competition will shape up.
The team lost some good senior leaders last year, Almgren said, but he has high hopes for his four seniors this year: Emily Stucky, Jenny Nocas, Ashley Aragon and Molly Foster.
Stucky can swim everything through sprints (any race under a minute), which is her specialty, he said. Nocas is more of a breaststroke competitor and also sprinter, while Aragon’s best event is the medley, “but she swims everything.”
Foster, a diver, is training under Michelle Cimalglio, who Almgren says is “a solid diving coach.”
Training under Almgren has also paid off for Stucky, who just signed a letter of intent on Wednesday for a scholarship to swim for the University of California at Santa Barbara, Calif.
The team also has a strong set of juniors, and a large but experienced group of freshmen, who got a lot of experience and training in middle school, Almgren said.
“There are small changes in high school, but they will pick it up. They already know how to work hard,” he said.
The Montrose swimmers will face 11 other high schools in league competition, and with “typically 60 to 64 teams” at the Class 4A state meet, Almgren said, where the difference between winning and losing comes down to 10ths of a second.
“High school girls’ swimming is very competitive in Colorado,” he said.
Though the team has competed in meets all over the Western Slope, in recent years the focus has been on preparation, Almgren said, and most meets have been in the Uncompahgre Valley or the Grand Valley, where many meets are held at Mesa State in Grand Junction.
The team’s first meet will be Dec. 4-5 in Montrose at the Montrose Aquatic Center, where the second home meet will also be held on Jan. 21. For the rest of the season the team will compete around the area, mostly at Mesa State, and will travel as far as Denver to watch other meets, Almgren said.
Regionals are the first weekend in February at Mesa State in Grand Junction, with state competition a week later in Fort Collins, he said.
Almgren said it doesn’t bother him much that fans don’t show up for swim meets like they do for other sports, like football. He said most people who come to meets are “parents or peers,” and many people don’t totally “get” swimming competition because the nuances are hard to see.
“People get excited about swimming every four years for the Olympics, but (locally) it’s very exciting for teams and parents and for those in the know,” Almgren said. “We try to do the best we can to tell people about what’s going on, but they have to come, and with time, they will see the nuances.”
People who attend meets regularly come to appreciate the athleticism that it takes to be a competitive swimmer, Almgren said
“It requires power and conditioning and tremendous focus,” he said.