Stevens Sisters Finish Swim Season Hand in Hand

Kaitlyn Cashdollar, Editor-in-Chief

Sage (12) and Coco (10) Stevens have a long history in the water. Whether it’s competing in synchronized swimming, or racing the Manitou Springs High School Swim and Dive team, they have always had a passion for swimming. It all started with their mother, Molly Stevens, a devout swimmer in her high school years. She carried her passion for the sport to her children, who started synchronized swimming when they were in the 3rd and 4th grades. Sage started a year before Coco, and both would compete up until 2016. Even though synchro focused on different things than speed swimming, many aspects of the sport helped in the girls’ transition to high school swimming. “Synchro prepared us really well because it’s all about form and positioning. We would do a lot of lap swimming as strength and conditioning,” said Sage. “That’s how I got really good at my strokes and good form.”

Their shift from synchronized swimming to speed swimming started during Sage’s sophomore year, when she started on the MSHS Swim and Dive team. Between the long hours and commitment required for synchro, she decided to start doing high school swimming full time and left synchro. “It took up so much of my life. (After leaving), I could do other things,” said Sage. Around the same time, still in middle school, Coco went with her mother to watch her sister compete in meets, and speed swimming caught her attention. “I wanted something new: new people,” said Coco. “I didn’t need any encouragement, I just decided to swim.” 

Being the younger sister of an upperclassmen, Coco already had established connections with some of the team and she didn’t have to make too many new friends.Younger sisters can piggyback on their older sisters relationships,” said Sage. To help her even more, she was often  put on the fastest relays with the senior swimmers because of her talent and impressive times in the 50 free. Coco had no problem fitting right in with the team, just as her sister had the year before. 

Previously, in synchro, the sisters were never on the same team because of the separation of age groups. In high school, however, they were able to compete with each other and against each other. Especially this year, the girls started frequently racing in the 50 free; which is both of their best event. Even before they started speed swimming, they were constantly racing each other in synchro practice. “It’s probably why I’m such a good sprinter, because the person who won got to skip the next [set],” said Coco.

Even though they are sometimes even in the same heat, the girls don’t think too much about it when they do race each other. “I have tunnel vision when I swim. I see the splashes of the people next to me and think, ‘I’m going to go ahead of them.’ I don’t care what other people in other lanes are doing,” said Coco. Besides wishing each other luck before they go up the blocks, the sisters focus on their own races instead of worry about the other’s.

Their parents have never stopped being involved in their swimming, even in the transition from synchro to speed swimming. “[Our parents] love that we swim. Most swim parents are very involved in their kids swimming lives. People always talk about soccer moms, but in soccer there aren’t as many opportunities for the moms to actually get involved in the sport. Swim parents have every opportunity to be right there,” said Sage. Two years ago, their mom started timing for the team’s home meets, and this year she was the full time announcer for both diving and swimming results. Their dad takes photos at all of their meets (pictures shown above), including the League and State meets.

The Tri-Peak League meet was incredibly successful for both of the girls. Sage dropped her time down to a 27.10 beating the state cut by .4 seconds and placing 7th. Meanwhile, Coco broke the 25 seconds with a time of 24.97 and placed 2nd overall. It has been a season long goal for her to make a 24.99, the cut for an extremely competitive championship meet for club swimming: the Speedo Summer Sectionals meet. Coco swims with the Colorado Torpedoes club team, which many girls on the high school team also swim because the head coach, Roy Chaney, coaches both girls’ and boys’ swimming for Manitou. This Sectionals cut was an incredible accomplishment, and both the girls’ success spurred them into a successful state meet. The girls went to state together for the second year in a row, both swimming the 50 free. Along with competing against each other, they raced with each other during their 200 free relay, which would place 5th in finals. That relay was Sage’s last event as a high school swimmer.

Sage is going to Montana State University in the fall, and she is majoring in anthropology and pre-med. She is not swimming in college, seeing that MSU doesn’t have a division team. Either way, she said that, “(College swimming is) not the type of thing for me.” However, she has high hopes for Coco’s future in college, and Coco isn’t opposed to the idea herself. “If a school will take me I’ll swim, which I have a good possibility to, if I get down to 23 seconds (in the 50 free),” she said. “My goals for the next few years will be to become more versatile because I can really only do the 50 free. I can do everything else and I’m fast enough in everything else but not competitive. I want to become more than a sprinter.”

Next year will be the first time that Coco competes on a team without Sage on it with her. “It’ll be different. I’m taking her place,” Coco said. “I’ll have a leadership position that was [Sage’s]. But I’ll definitely be letting her know how I do.” Despite the sadness in losing both a sister and a teammate, Coco still has high hopes for the MSHS Swim and Dive team next year. The team performed extremely well this year, only losing one dual meet against anyone in their league and placing 2nd at the Tri-Peaks League meet. “I’m really psyched. We have so many freshmen and we’re getting some new 8th graders. We have (Kaitlyn Cashdollar, 11) and Sydney (Dolloff-Holt, 11). It’s going to be so good.” With Coco prepared and looking forwards to next year’s swim season and Sage’s future at MSU, both girls are set up to achieve greatness in their futures, and will undoubtedly continue to push each other both in and out of the water.