Manitou Girls’ Swim Dominate at Hornet Invite

Abby Pribila, Copy Editor

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This past Friday and Saturday, the Manitou Springs High School (MSHS) girls’ swim team competed at the 34th Annual Hornet Invitational at Pueblo County High School. This invite has been the team’s most successful this season with multiple best times and a few state qualifying times. The star of the show, however, was on Friday for the preliminary races.

In the first event, the 200 Medley Relay, Manitou made sure to have fun during their walkout, even wearing gold pants to show their pride for their team. The third event, the 200 Individual Medley, was also a success for one sophomore, Aidan Coté. Coté had already made her state cut for the event but took it even further on Friday and dropped five seconds, making it finals the next day where she would be racing next to fellow teammate Bella Kuzbek (11). “ I am freaking proud of myself. The week that I had was really bad but this was incredible,” said Coté, who ended up hitting a 2:26 in the event.

One of the most prominent moments of the entire invite was on Friday, the day of prelims. Heidi Martin (11) had been training all season long to make a state cut in the 500 Free. Martin had started the season with a 6:45 and had a long way to go as the state qualifying time is a 6:15. Throughout this season, Martin has continued to drop time and more recently, at the Cheyenne Mountain Invite, she hit a 6:17. The entire team was excited for her big race as she had supporters surrounding the pool. Martin swam her race and hit a 6:07, her new personal record and a state-qualifying time. “My cap broke 30 seconds before the race,” said Martin, “but I decided to turn the jets on and go ham. I saw all of my teammates cheering me on and I made state by eight seconds.”

More state cuts were made in the 100 Backstroke by Sofija Cirko (11) and Avrie Tomsik (11). Cirko had been battling an elbow injury all day and was swimming through the pain. In the end, she pulled through and made a state cut with a 1:09:40. “It was hard to swim with an injury but I made it through,” said Cirko, “The support from the team was what really made me push through the pain.” Tomsik had been close to the state cut, 1:10:00, all-season and finally during prelims she hit her time and got a 1:09.

The 100 Breaststroke has always been a successful race for the team and this meet held to that. Bella Kuzbek (11) has been training for her breaststroke all season long and at the Hornet Invite and that proved evident in her time. In the preliminary race, Kuzbek finished second with a new personal best of 1:10. “There was a lot of anticipation leading up to my race and I was really nervous. On my last turn, I was neck and neck with a girl from Coronado,” Kuzbek said, “so on the last 25 I kicked it into gear and dropped time to get second.” On finals day, Kuzbek dropped even more time and ended up getting third place for the team.

The 400 Free Relay has never been a big success for MSHS, the relay teams often disqualify. Straying from Manitou’s usual habits, a relay team pulled through and dropped 11 seconds to get their best time of the season. The team was made up of Martin, Kuzbek, Coté and Coco Stevens (12). Each swimmer’s splits were well under a state-qualifying time. As Stevens put it, “Manitou really popped off.” The MSHS girls swim team ended up placing fifth at the invite. After a successful meet, the team is headed right back in the pool to prepare for their upcoming home meets, leagues and state.