Courtesy: Colorado State Athletics
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The first meet of the season always gives Christopher Woodard plenty of reasons for excitement, and the first reason is the most basic.
“Really, what I’m really happy for is getting on the bus,” the Colorado State women’s swimming and diving coach said. “It sounds kind of weird – I’m happy to get on a bus and see the kids in that environment again and traveling four hours over the mountains; some kids have probably never been in the mountains. I definitely miss that experience. We had a couple of trips last year, but it wasn’t the same.”
The Rams begin the 2021-22 season with a road trip to Grand Junction for the Intermountain Shootout on Friday and Saturday.
The nine-team women’s field (there are also five men’s teams in attendance) is being hosted by Colorado Mesa University, with its club team, Adams State, Air Force, BYU, CSU Pueblo, Dixie State and Northern Colorado also in attendance. Events begin Friday at 5:30 p.m., starting with the 200-yard freestyle relay. There will be 11 events the first day (including 3-meter diving for women), and 11 more Saturday, with competition starting at 10:30 a.m.
Colorado State is coming off a record-setting team score for a fifth-place finish at the Mountain West Championships in 2021, and the roster is highlighted by the return of five All-Mountain West performers: Seniors Kristina Friedrichs and Abbey Owenby; juniors Liza Lunina and Hannah Sykes; and sophomore Anika Johnson. The team has 15 returners who scored in all three of their individual events at conference in 2021.
Woodard has been impressed with the training so far, but now he’s curious to see how it translates to a competitive field. With training, the team is realistically a few weeks out from hitting full stride, but the coach believes the team is excited about racing.
“I like what we’ve done so far; I’ve been really encouraged so far by some of our veterans, and I’ve been really impressed by some of our freshmen and what they’re doing in workouts. We’re going to see almost every single event contested in the Mountain west with the exception of the 1,650 freestyle. We don’t always get that in a dual-meet setting, but we’re getting it here, so we’re going to have a lot of information coming out of this.”
Swimmers are capped at five individual events, seven overall including relays. Eleven Rams are scheduled to swim five individual events at the meet, and every swimmer will be in at least three individuals with most of them hitting the max with relays.
The scoring will be done in a dual format, compiled through results of the top five finishers for each team throughout the meet.