On Saturday (Jan. 8) the Taos Tigers swim team participated in the 23rd Albuquerque Academy Invitational. The Taos "A" relay team  qualified for state in the 200-yard medley relay.  They already qualified in a previous meet but improved on their time. Coach Greta says "our goal is to beat the Farmington Relay at the Districts and State."  Dillon Brown also had a state qualifying result in the Boys 200-yard freestyle, but had a faster time in a previous meet. 

As a team, the Taos women came seventh out of 18 with 328 points. Albuquerque Academy blew the competition out of the water, coming in first place with 989 points. As a team, the Taos men came in fourth out of 18 with 365 points. Albuquerque Academy also took first in the men’s rankings.

Finding a parking spot for the qualifying meet was difficult. Both parking lots were full from a bevy of school buses from each competing team, as well as cars of friends, family and governing body officials. One street down, parallel-parked cars extended away from the academy about a quarter mile. 

Inside the Natatorium there’s a massive painting of a swimmer mentally preparing to jump off the blocks and get an edge in a swim heat, and there’s also a commemorative frame for the name of the competitive pool, in which all the swimmers would try and get their personal best that day: the David E. Barney and Peter B. Barney Pool. David was a swimming coach who led 15 state championship teams, earned a National Coach of the Year award, and got inducted into the Albuquerque Sports Hall of Fame. Peter was a U.S. Navy Frogman who helped Albuquerque Academy’s Headmaster Ashby Harper prepare to swim the English Channel.

The schools competing in the venerable Natatorium were the Albuquerque Academy, Alamogordo,  Artesia, Belen, Cleveland, Cottonwood Classical Preparatory, Farmington, Hope Christian, Los Lunas, Miyamura, Piedra Vista,  Rio Rancho, Sandia Prep, Socorro, St. Michael’s, Valencia and Taos. 

The packed venue was humid and hot from the large pool with the red-and-black lane lines, and the sheer number of competitors swimming in it. The venue was loud but not from the fans raised above in the higher tiers but from all the teammates egging on their team's swimmer. 

In between heats, coach Greta Kuehl talked about what to expect for the Taos Swim team at this stage of the season. “They're working hard now and we're gonna expect those drops towards the end of this season. My newer swimmers, they're still dropping because they're just getting better in other techniques. Everything's getting better. So that's kind of what to expect mid-season.” 

Assistant coach Hal Thureson mentioned some of the growth he saw at that meet, “There are some kids that have had best times today. Best ever times.  A couple of them have had pretty big time breakthroughs. Like Jackie [Jacqueline] went under 30 seconds for the free for the first time. A pretty big milestone.”

Taos results: (SQT indicates State Qualifying Time)

Event 1 Girls 200 Yard Medley Relay: 7th 2:18.55

Event 2 Boys 200 Yard Medley Relay: 3rd 1:53.31 SQT

Event 3 Girls 200 Yard Freestyle: 8th 2:17.88 Sierra Griego

Event 4 Boys 200 Yard Freestyle 2nd 1:55.90 Dillon Brown SQT

Event 5 Girls 200 Yard IM 11th 2:36.53 Grace Goler

Event 7 Girls 50 Yard Freestyle 18th 29.79 Jacqueline Limas

Event 8 Boys 50 Yard Freestyle 7th 23.62 Estevan Salazar

Event 9 Girls 100 Yard Butterfly 3rd 1:07.73 Grace Goler

Event 10 Boys 100 Yard Butterfly 3rd 1:01.40 Dillon Brown

Event 11 Girls 100 Yard Freestyle 8th 1:00.90 Sierra Griego

Event 12 Boys 100 Yard Freestyle 11th 57.83 Lorenzo Cordova

Event 15 Girls 200 Yard Freestyle Relay 6th 1:54.59

Event 16 Boys 200 Yard Freestyle Relay 4th 1:38.50 SQT

Event 18 Boys 100 Yard Backstroke 3rd 59.53 Estevan Salazar

Event 19 Girls 100 Yard Breaststroke 12th 1:27.16 Maye Montoya

Event 20 Boys 100 Yard Breaststroke 17th 1:20.69 Roman McAdams

Event 21 Girls 400 Yard Freestyle Relay 4th 4:10.63

Event 22 Boys 400 Yard Freestyle Relay 7th 4:30.09

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