Kemmerer Swim Team Places Eighth at 3A Girls State Championships

Photo by Roy Runnion

The Kemmerer girls’ swim team made the considerable drive to Gillette last week, competing at the 3A State Championships Thursday and Friday. The Lady Rangers placed eighth as a team, and though all of the swimmers swam their hearts (and lungs) out, only a few survived the preliminaries and advanced to the finals: Amelia DeSpain for the 200 individual medley and the 500 Freestyle; Kylie Price for the 50 and 100 Freestyles; and Nadia Runnion for the 100 backstroke.

Amelia DeSpain

Moving onto the finals, DeSpain finished strong in the 200 IM finals with a time of 2:25.91, taking seventh place. Compared to her performance in the preliminary round, DeSpain only lost 0.42 seconds with her initial time of 2:25.49. The overall winner of the event, Buffalo’s Makenna Lambert, finished with a time of 2:13.98 in the finals.

In DeSpain’s next event, the 500 freestyle, she faced off against some fierce competition, and finished in ninth with a time of 6:00.14, a slightly slower showing than her performance in the preliminary round (5:58.41). The overall winner of the event, Courtney Clark of Green River, finished with a time of 5:33.25. Notably, Clark’s time in the finals was only 0.01 seconds slower than her preliminary round.

Kylie Price

For Price’s first event in the finals, the 50 freestyle, she found herself in a similar boat like that of teammate DeSpain, securing 7seventh place with a time of 25.79. Compared with her preliminary round’s time, she shaved off a full 1.15 seconds from her preliminary time of 26.94 seconds. Compared to some of the longer events, there was little room for error, as between all competitors there was only a margin of roughly 3 seconds between placing first, or last out of the twelve that qualified. More specifically, the winner of the event, Tanith Smith of Green River, did so with a time of 24.68.

For Price’s second event, the 100 freestyle, she once again faced agile swimmers as she finished with a time of 58.59, placing eighth. Despite this placement, Price still found room for improvement, shaving a full 0.60 seconds from her preliminary time of 59.19 seconds. Compared with the 50 freestyle, there was a greater range of times, which ranged from Cody’s Tara Joyce’s first-place finish of 51.49 seconds, to 59.32 seconds.

Nadia Runnion

For Runnion’s sole event in the finals, the 100 backstroke, she earned a time of 1:07.99 and placed eighth in the event. Like Price, Runnion also found room for improvement at the last minute, shaving a compelling 1.05 seconds from her initial time in the preliminary round. Much like Price’s 100 freestyle event, there was a similar range of times, with Tanith Smith of Green River once again placing first with a time of 1:00.21, against last place’s 1:09.94 finish.

While these three individual swimmers qualified and swam in the finals, the biggest achievement for the Kemmerer Swim Team was in the 200 freestyle relay race. The relay, which sees four swimmers from each team complete 50 segments, was their big win. Representing the team was sophomore Tyler Thatcher, freshman Ella Thatcher, sophomore Kylie Price, and junior Amelia DeSpain.

Easily qualifying from the preliminary round with a time of 1:46.99, the four dived into their final relays in the finals, improving their time by 0.86 seconds and securing a 4th place finish for Kemmerer.

“They were almost perfect in their relay exchanges and every girl cut time each day they swam…They not only cut 4 seconds from their best time at conference, but they were 4th overall. To add onto that, they were 0.7 seconds off the team record — Something that I think they can reach next year,” Kemmerer head coach Amanda Aimone said.

Furthermore, she noted how interesting it was that they were one of the smallest schools competing. Aimone was also exceptionally proud of the team and finalists, saying that everyone did a great job and that they had all exceeded her own and Coach Thatcher’s expectations of them.

“They worked incredibly hard over the season and they really reaped the benefits at state. We talked about how we were sitting 9th going into the second day and we had a conversation with the girls that they could come out of 8th of 13 and they did! That is a huge win in my book!” she said.

Looking back on the season, Aimone explained that they prepared by focusing on “technique, intensity and willingness to give more each time they set foot in the pool.”

As a coach, this will be Aimone’s 9th year coaching swimming, with seven of those being head coach. Despite her experience, she acknowledged that there is always the thought of ‘what if I had done this instead’ that coaches have to overcome.

“Trust the process…I need to trust that [the] process [that] we take these kids through is a great one and they see success 99% of the time,” she explained.

Looking to the future, Aimone said that she is looking to continue educating herself, adding that there is always something new to learn, whether it be new techniques or training methods.

“As a whole, this is the best showing the Lady Rangers have had as team since 2016 and I think it can only get better if these ladies stick together and keep working as hard as they did this season,” she added.

“Being an athlete is an incredibly tough task for any individual and being a swimmer does not fall short of that. With all the hours and reps and early mornings that these ladies put in over the season, I am so proud of them. I know it’s not easy, speaking from experience, but it is so worth it. This season especially. I saw these ladies grow and change for the better as individuals and as swimmers and that is so cool! I cannot wait to see what next year brings. I also need to give a lot of credit for our success to my assistant, Phil Thatcher. He is a tremendous help! He is also the ultimate motivator. He gets the girls ready to rock at any meet we are at and I cannot thank him enough for his help!” Aimone said in closing.

3A Kemmerer Scores

200 Medley Relay

12. Nadia Runnion, Kylee Batista, Arianne Dearden, Cheyann Roose 2:15.11

50 Freestyle

7. Kylie Price 25.79, 16. Tyler Thatcher 27.63

100 Freestyle

8. Kylie Price 58.59, 14. Ella Thatcher 59.45, 24. Tyler Thatcher 1:01.93

500 Freestyle

9. Amelia Despain 6:00.14

200 Freestyle Relay

4. Tyler Thatcher, Ella Thatcher, Kylie Price, Amelia Despain 1:46.13

100 Backstroke

8. Nadia Runnion 1:07.99

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