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Girls' swimming athlete of the year: Laura Day, Lewis-Palmer
Another 5 yards and Laura Day would have a lot less on her mind.
The home-schooled junior who swims for Lewis-Palmer was closing in on Fairview’s Kourtney Fosse in the home stretch of the 100-yard breaststroke at the 5A state meet. But she ran out of water, finishing .37 of a second back and with motivating thoughts of redemption filling her head.
“I need it rubbed in,” said Day, who was the 4A state champ in 2010. “I’ve been rubbing it in.”
Her runner-up finish was the best among all Pikes Peak-area competitors at the state’s top meet. And her time of 1:04.41, which was .23 of a second off the automatic All-American time, was good enough that it would have placed her fifth in NCAA Division II, 200th in Division I and make her the school record-holder at Air Force.
“The toughest thing for Laura this year was there was nobody to actually race against in the breaststroke,” Rangers coach Alan Arata said. “And that meant we didn’t put her in it very often. … And breaststroke in our league was exceptional this year, but Laura was just that much different than everyone else. … As good as she was, I think we could have been a little better if we had been more seasoned with her.”
Day said she felt she was “pushing water” for most of the season as she swam other events.
“And then I got to state,” she said, “and I was tapered and shaved and I felt pretty good.”
Day set school records in the breaststroke and 50-yard freestyle. She also helped the Rangers set new marks in the 200 medley relay, which finished sixth, and 200 free relay, which was ninth but had the seventh-best overall time.
While second place is obviously not good enough for Day, it's the perfect motivation for an athlete Arata describes as a “fiery competitor.”
“She loves to compete and she loves to train and loves to train hard,” Arata said. “ … I think there are very bright things in her future.”
She said she may follow her brother Matthew — she has four older brothers and three younger siblings — and three other former Rangers and swim at Cal Baptist in college. But Day, along with Lewis-Palmer diver Chandler Marshall — who finished third at state despite an injury — have some unfinished business to attend to first.
“I don’t think we’ll be beating ourselves up,” Day said. “We’ll just be thinking about it to motivate us to practice harder and to try something that we probably wouldn’t try unless we had that stuck in our faces.”