Wendy Gorie

To get ready for the upcoming swimming season, the Salida Lady Spartans have been working hard in the pool.

“So far it has been really tough,” said junior captain Hannah Rhude. “We’ve been amping up real quick because it’s so short; we’ve been struggling through practices.”

The swimmers, however, have been able to lean on each other.

“So far I think we’re doing really well bonding and motivating each other at practice,” Rhude said. “Hopefully that trend continues; I love the team dynamic we have so far.”

At the team’s end-of-season banquet last year, the swimmers selected Rhude and senior Elise Mishmash as captains for this year.

“It’s such an honor to have,” Rhude said. “I always try to be a leader; it’s awesome that message is getting to them.”

Head coach Wendy Gorie said the team chooses girls who work the hardest, care about the team and have leadership capabilities.

“They do a lot of work,” Gorie said about the captains. “The girls want to step up and take ownership, and they do a great job.”

The captains also lead by example during tough workouts.

“Right now we’re focusing on stroke technique and conditioning,” Gorie said. “We won’t worry about our performances until the big meet at Cheyenne Mountain (Dec. 20-21).”

Cheyenne Mountain and the Pueblo County meet are two of the team’s biggest competitions of the year, each with hundreds of girls in every event.

“Those are really important; they’re like previews of state,” Gorie said, referring to the level of competition.

“Everyone always shows to compete,” Rhude said, adding that those two-day meets are “a blast team-bonding-wise” since they stay overnight.

Performances at different races will also help determine who competes on relays and, if they hit state times, make the rest of the season less stressful.

“Qualifying early is huge,” Gorie said. “It takes the pressure off.”

The team will dive into its season at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday when Salida hosts Alamosa, Pagosa Springs and Woodland Park at Salida Hot Springs Aquatic Center.

“It’s a fun kickoff event,” Rhude said. “I hope we kick everyone’s butt.”

While swimming fast and winning races is always a goal, the team also wants to have a good time to balance out all their hard work.

“I want to have fun,” Rhude said. “It would be great to have fast times, but if that doesn’t come, I just want to have a fun time. I want everybody on the team to have fun so they say it’s worth it because it’s such a hard season.”