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Cibola relay team keeps state hopes alive
A relay team in swimming has so many moving parts, it's sometimes hard for them all to sync up at once, but when it was the last thing standing in between Cibola and the state tournament, sometimes it all just clicks.
That was the case Saturday as Lake Havasu won both the boys and girls meets at the Colorado River championship.
The Cibola boys earned second and Gila Ridge came in third. The girls side was reversed, with Gila Ridge grabbing second and Cibola coming in third.
“We raced phenomenally,” Cibola coach Richard McClure said. “We've been doing great.”
For Cibola, the big victory of the day belonged to the 400-yard freestyle relay team, who ran a 4-minute, 3-second final to earn first place. That time was three seconds better than their preliminary time and good enough for a Division I provisional time.
Before the race, Cibola swimmer George Gould was confident in his team.
“All four of us have never been able to put the pieces together at the same time,” he said. “So I'm hoping today we can all go as fast as we're capable of at the same time in the same relay, and if we do that, I think we'll make it (to state.)”
After seeing the time after the race, Gould almost guaranteed a state appearance.
“It's the most confident I've ever been with that relay,” Gould said.
The Raider relay team will find out Sunday if they made it to Mesa.
When a meet is dominated by three teams, sometimes it's hard to see that the less experienced schools are actually improving.
Kofa coach Mark Van Voorst and Yuma High coach Jon Rochelle saw the drastic improvement in their swimmers and know it's all about personal bests.
Rochelle's program only had six kids in it last year and now the Criminals are up to 38.
“We're building a lot,” Rochelle said. “We've got a lot of younger talent. No one for state this year, but we're definitely looking for next year.”
Rochelle, who has a background in water polo, is big on the team aspect of swimming.
“I get really passionate and that gets the kids passionate as well,” he said. “It's more about the team process of everybody getting better, especially in the relays. It's easy to keep everybody fired up so that's what I do.”
Rochelle's seen that improvement from his team, with times dropping as much as 47 seconds through out the season.
For Kofa, it's more about an internal competition.
“We're swimming in a variety of events and a lot of people have gotten their personal bests,” Van Voorst said. “That's what we want to see.”