It is not easy to qualify for the CSI Long Course State Championships. Just ask local swimmers Trenton Bagge, Ryan Cutrone and Samantha Bagge. All three swimmers qualified, however, leaving each with a sense of accomplishment and feelings of gratitude towards the coaches and family members who made qualification possible.
Chief among this summer’s state qualifiers was 10-year-old swimmer Trenton Bagge. Qualifying in a total of six events, Bagge was far and away the most dominant Cortez Leopard Sharks swimmer throughout the season.
Speaking about what it meant to qualify for Colorado’s premiere summer swimming event, Bagge stated, “It’s pretty exciting knowing that you are going against the best swimmers in the state. I’m very excited to spend time with my friends and swim fast.”
Also qualifying for the state meet was 12-year-old Ryan Cutrone in the 50-meter freestyle event. For Cutrone, qualifying in that event had been a year-long goal, which, once realized, provided him with a satisfying feeling of accomplishment.
“I finished my swim and looked up and realized that I made the state meet,” said Cutrone. “I put my hands in the air and celebrated. I was so happy.”
Following Cutrone’s qualifying swim in the 50-meter freestyle, 14-year-old Samantha Bagge followed up with a qualifying swim of her own in the same event. Bagge’s time of 31.11, which is an exceptional time for a swimmer her age, was good enough to place her third in the Western Slope Championships.
“I’ve made some sacrifices to get here,” explained Bagge. “My youth group was going to Mexico, but I decided to stay back and swim. I really wanted to qualify for state and making it was a great feeling.”
According to Cortez Leopard Sharks assistant coach Gayle Earley, qualifying three swimmers for the state meet was a huge step forward for the team.
“For the [Leopard Sharks] to have three swimmers make it to long course state is a huge accomplishment,” said Earley. “I’ve been coaching for 13 years and this is the first time that we have ever taken three swimmers to the state meet.”
While all three qualifiers were pleased with their individual accomplishments, they were cognizant of the fact that qualification would not have been possible without their families and coaches.
“To qualify, your whole family has to be into swimming as much as you are,” explained Cutrone. “My parents have to get up and get me to practice at 6 every morning. They sacrifice a lot of time and money so that I can get better.”
“It’s good to have coaches who will push you,” added Bagge. “All of my coaches do a great job of pushing me to get better while still allowing me to have fun. I am very thankful to have such wonderful influences in my life.”
Ultimately, qualifying for the Long Course State Championships is an experience that all three swimmers will not soon forget. Coaches, families and teammates were undoubtedly proud.