The Montezuma-Cortez High School girls swimming team will be led in a new direction by one of its alumni.
Ian Maclaren, class of 2005, takes over for Ann Hight as head coach. As a former high school and college swimmer, Maclaren has a vision of what his youthful team of 14 girls can become.
It will be a young team, but we got a lot of experience, said Maclaren, who swam two years for the Panthers before M-CHS cut the boys swim program. Things are looking great. Weve had great work ethic. We had quite a few girls who swam in the summer, too. With the short high school season, I think thats especially important.
Returners Emily Harris (senior), Elana Cope (sophomore), Madison VanBibber (sophomore) and Sera King (sophomore) look to be a strong relay team that contends for state.
Im expecting big things from those top-four, Maclaren said. Id like to get a relay to state this year. Its been a long time since weve done that. I think its something we can do and definitely something were shooting for.
High standards in and out of the pool are a must for the Lady Panthers. Maclaren swam four years at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and then graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Wash.
Academics! Thats super important to me, Maclaren said. You have to come to appreciate how important academics is. Swimming is a sport you wont make much money in. Thats something I definitely want to stress.
Harris is the senior captain, and the Dolores High School student is ready to be a leader and has huge goals of her own.
Im excited for the season, she said. We feel like we have a good team this year. Personally, I want to make it to state.
Harris will swim in the 200-Individual Medley and the sprint freestyles along with team relays.
VanBibber will be a key in the sprint races, while Cope swims the distance events. The other underclassmen should provide good depth in the pool for their new coach.
Its building a sense of team, building that sense of camaraderie. Just have fun, Maclaren said. Its going to be hard. Its going to be a tough workout, tough practices. But I think thats what makes it fun, too.
Kevin Ketterer is Maclarens assistant coach. A former college swimmer at University of Idaho, Ketterer teaches his coaching philosophy with Maclarens.
You have two different perspectives and I think its great for these girls, said Ketterer, who also coaches the Cortez Leopard Sharks club swim team. I started coaching so long ago, that Ian can teach them some of the new principles hes learned.
The Lady Panthers open the season at Durango on Nov. 30, and return home the next day to host a meet at the Cortez Recreation Center on Dec. 1.
Being at home for the first meet is always good, Harris said. Youre comfortable in your own pool.
M-CHS will swim on the road for the rest of the season. Being able to get off to a good start at home is good for Maclarens young team.
Id like to encourage everyone in the community to come out for that, Maclaren said. Swimming is not a huge spectator sport. But having people on the deck cheering, making noise, makes a big difference.
Regional championships are slated for Feb. 1-2, at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.