SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months

Virtual meet a whole new experience for Arkansas Valley high school swimmers

Ken Hamrick
LA Junta Tribune
Grace Gardner of the Arkansas Valley Swim Team competes in the 100-meter freestyle in Wednesday's virtual meet with St. Mary's Academy. Gardner qualified for the state meet in this event as well as the 100-meter backstroke and as part of the 200-meter freestyle relay team.

It was a whole new experience for the Arkansas Valley Swim Team on Wednesday as it participated in a virtual meet with St. Mary's Academy.

The AVST girls swam their events in the La Junta High School Tiger Gym pool, while St. Mary's Academy swam their events in their own pool in Englewood.

The Tigers competed on Wednesday evening, while the Wildcats went on Wednesday morning.

"It was a little weird to not have anybody to swim against and not really knowing what the other team had done thus far either," said AV coach Lisa Korbitz. "It will be kind of a surprise as far as scoring goes. But we qualified a few more events for state tonight and that's our biggest goal right now is to get those girls to state and keep them healthy. If we have to do virtually, then we'll learn how to do it."

For the swimmers, the competition was a whole new feel.

"It was just a really intense version of practice," said Isabel Gaines. "We're very competitive as a team. We compete a lot in practice as is. While we didn't have the other team here, we were still pretty intense. Everybody else still felt like it was a meet, so we were still able to put a lot of heart in it and race."

"I think our team benefits from racing other girls," said Gracie Moreland. "But we have to adjust with COVID and kind of do things differently. So we're going to have to race each other and hopefully make the best of the situation. We try to race each other in practice all the time, so it's good to be racing teammates."

"It was very strange," said Grace Gardner. "You have to push yourself harder."

St. Mary's Academy won the meet 147-102.

Gardner qualified for the state meet in two events ­— the 100-meter freestyle and the 100-meter backstroke. Her 100 freestyle time was 1:07.51 and her 100 backstroke time was 1:16.00.

Moreland was a qualifier in one event, the 200-meter freestyle. Her time was 2:30.18. She was just off of qualifying for state in the 50-meter freestyle in 31.72 seconds. That is 0.72 seconds short of the qualifying time.

Arkansas Valley also qualified its 200-meter freestyle relay team. The quartet of Gardner, Moreland, Gaines and Morgan Dowell had a time of 2:07.14.

Arkansas Valley will have another virtual meet on Feb. 12 as it will go against Pueblo County. This one, however, will be different from Wednesday's meet.

"Pueblo County is going to swim at the very same time as us, so we should have results a little bit sooner," Korbitz said. "We might be able to livestream both teams together, which would be awesome too."

Tribune-Democrat reporter Ken Hamrick can be reached by email atKHamrick1@gannett.com