PINEDALE – On most days, the Sublette County girls swimming team practices twice a day. The girls hit the pool at 6 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for an hour and then go to class. They practice after school every day, too.
Since half the team is from Pinedale and half of it is from Big Piney, they also practice together twice a week – once in each pool.
To supplement the work they do in the pool, the girls also lift weights and do some rock climbing.
"They put in a lot of time and work really hard," head coach Gregory Gray said.
A lot of that work has already paid off. Ten different swimmers have qualified for state in a total of 34 individual events. Sublette has also qualified for state in all three relays.
The young team, however, only has three seniors while freshmen account for half of the 28 girls on the team.
"We're really young," Gray said.
Four swimmers, however, have led the charge: senior McKenzi Davison, sophomores Natalie Hunt and Israel Seeman and freshman Emma Rogers. Not only have they joined forces on relays to swim Sublette's top times in the 200 freestyle relay, the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay, but they also shine in individual events.
Davison has led by example in individual events, swimming many of the team's fastest times, and some of the fastest in the state. At the Pinedale Invite on Saturday, Davison swam the second-fastest time in class 3A this year in the 50-yard freestyle, 26.01 seconds. Davison has also qualified for state in the 100 free, the 200 free, the 100 butterfly and the 100-yard breaststroke.
Seeman has qualified for state in every individual event except the 100 fly and 100 breast stroke.
Rogers and Hunt, however, have made some waves with their versatility. Both swimmers have qualified for state in all eight individual events.
"They're pretty tough," Gray said. "It's not an easy thing to do."
Rogers' feat is particularly noteworthy.
"Not many freshmen have done this," coach Gregory Gray said. "There have been a few others, but not many."
Out of the 14 freshmen on the team, Hayden Thoman is the only other swimmer who has qualified for state in an individual event. Thoman qualified in the 100 fly.
Rogers has swum the fastest 200 individual medley on the team, and 15th-fastest in the state, 2:34.92.
Hunt, meanwhile, has three finishes that rank in the top 10 in class 3A, swimming the fourth-best 50 free (27.72), and the eighth-best 100 free (58.90) and 100 fly (1:08.55).
A handful of other sophomores have also had impressive swims to qualify for state.
Paige Nielson qualified for state in the 100 breast with the team's fastest time (1:19.49).
Kaylee Day has the team's top 500 free (6:14.47) and also qualified in the 200 free.
Adalyn Bennett has also qualified for state in the 500 free.
Two juniors have also punched their tickets to state. Meleah Covill has qualified for state in the 50 free and the 100 free while Darbie Palson has qualified in diving.
As the season reaches the home stretch, the swimmers should also be encouraged because many of them swam their best races of the year on Saturday in Pinedale.
The swimmers were scheduled to compete yesterday as this paper was going to press. On Oct. 13 in Pinedale, the swimmers will get in their last competition before the 3A Western Conference meet in Powell on Oct. 21.