Competing at the 2017 Arena Western Zone Senior Championships in Fresno, California, Aug. 1-5, Cortez’s top two swimmers represented Southwest Colorado well.
Duran sets high standardLeading the way at one of the West’s most prestigious meets was 14-year-old Cortez Leopard Sharks member Victoria Duran, who has been one of her team’s most successful age-group swimmers of all time.
Competing in the 19-and-under division, Duran placed 54th in the 1,500-meter freestyle (19:08.96), 101st in the 800-meter freestyle (10:16.50), 119th in the 400-meter freestyle (4:49.82), and 242nd in the 200-meter freestyle (2:22.09).
Duran’s performance was especially impressive given that the majority of the swimmers competing in the meet were high school students and recent high school graduates. Had Duran been swimming in her normal 13-14 division, she would have placed seventh overall in the 1,500-meter freestyle.
“Swimming at Zones was really fun, and everything was really relaxed, which was nice,” Duran said. “The experience was awesome.”
Breaking down her events individually, Duran explained that she was nervous for the 800-meter freestyle, since it was her first event at the large meet. Duran said that although the 200-meter freestyle is not her strongest event, she was pleased with her performance before indicating that the 400-meter freestyle and the 1,500-meter freestyle brought out her best performances.
“I liked the pool that we swam the 400 and the 1,500 in a lot better,” Duran said. “It wasn’t as hot later in the week, and I had some fast girls in my heats. It was nice to get in the water and race.”
Asked about her goals for the future, Duran said that she would like to swim at the college level and qualify for Olympic trials.
“I have big dreams for swimming, and I really want to achieve my goals,” the 14-year-old said.
Bagge shines againOne year after becoming the first swimmer from Cortez to qualify for the Western Zone Senior Championships, 18-year-old Samantha Bagge returned to the prestigious meet and performed well for the second consecutive time.
Opening the competition with the 100-meter freestyle, Bagge blazed to a career-best time of 1:04.24, which was good enough for 206th place overall. Bagge followed up her performance with a 75th-place finish in the 50-meter freestyle (28.72).
Over the course of her prep career, Bagge set school records in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, 200-meter freestyle, 100-yard backstroke, and 100-yard butterfly. Bagge also participated in three record-breaking relays and finished her high school career as one of M-CHS’s top high school swimmers of all time.
According to Bagge’s mother, Deanna, Bagge has qualified for next year’s Western Senior Zone Championships and will compete in the meet for the final time next year.