Lexie grabs gold, leads Cougars to ninth at state swim meet

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By Chaz Hudd

The Evergreen girls swim team ended the season by making quite a splash this past weekend. Competing in the Class 4A state swimming and diving championships at Mountain View Aquatics Center in Loveland, the Cougars notched an impressive ninth-place finish.

Making the performance even more impressive was the championship won by freshman Lexie Malazdrewicz, which included five school records broken by her and her teammates.

“A top-10 finish was a goal I had set for the team to achieve, but was not expecting to happen this year,” Evergreen coach Jeanne Godaire said. “I am so proud of these girls. All the hard work and those 5:30 A.M. swims really paid off. “

Malazdrewicz, a diminutive freshman, held off Mackenzie Norlin of Windsor at the finish to win the 200–yard individual medley in a personal best and school record time of 2 minutes, 9.15 seconds.

The state championship, the first by an Evergreen female swimmer since 1993, was but a part of Malazdrewicz’s big day, as she also notched a fourth-place showing in the 100 freestyle and swam a leg on the Cougars’ 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay teams that placed seventh overall.

School records were set in all three of those events.

“Winning a state championship feels really good and is a big accomplishment,” Malazdrewicz said. “I am very happy. I didn’t really have any expectations going into the final. I just wanted to do my best. I knew it was going to be a very tough race and I’d have to swim my best.

“I knew the race was very close and would come down to the touch. I didn’t know if I had won when I finished. I looked over at my teammates and coaches and saw them going crazy and knew that I’d won. It was great having the support of my teammates and really made a difference.”

Carrie Latimer has been a four-year swimmer at Evergreen, and saved her best performance for the last of her high school career.

She broke the school record while placing seventh in the 50 freestyle in a time of 25.29, just slightly off the personal best of 25.03. Latimer also teamed with Malazdrewicz, Hailey Davey and Lindsay Johnson for the seventh-place finish in the 200 free relay, and with Malazdrewicz, Lily Werthan and Johnson on the 200 medley relay team that took seventh.

Both relay teams finished well above their seeding and both covered the distance in school record times. For good measure, Latimer also took 10th in the 100 backstroke.

“I am so excited”, said the Scripps College-bound senior. “This was the best meet I have ever had. I was really excited going in because of Lexie and the fact that we were really well prepared. As a senior, this was really big to me since it was my last meet. Everything just clicked for the team. We did so well in the pre-lims that we were really excited for the finals. Everyone was so supportive. Our teammates rooted so hard that it made it really rewarding. I had to e-mail my college coach my times, and got to send him new personal bests. It is very exciting. I can’t imagine a better way to finish my high school swimming career.”

Renee Gutberlet qualified in the 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 400 freestyle relay. Teammate Holly Fortik competed in the 200 and 500 freestyle, as well as the 400 freestyle relay, while Haley Newkirk swam in the 400 freestyle relay.

Thompson Valley was the 4A team champion with 330 points. Rock Canyon took second with 266 points, followed by Cheyenne Mountain with 175. The Cougars were more than content with 102 points and the ninth place showing.

“This was just an exceptional season,” Godaire said. “All the girls did really well and the support from the assistant coaches was incredible. We were seeded 23rd in the 200 free and all four girls swam their personal bests. If they hadn’t, we would not have qualified for the finals. Lexie was really in it for the team and really put herself into those races. She is a very smart swimmer and deserved the win. It was really great that she could do that for Evergreen High School.”