Area swimmers Makenzie Welch and Kiley Stotler take off for the YMCA Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina next week with Northwest Connecticut YMCA Laser coach Dave Steel.
Welch was an All-State swimmer for Torrington High School in the CIAC’s fall girls season.
Stotler, a sophomore at Northwestern, was the top female swimmer in the co-ed Berkshire League during the CIAC’s winter boys season.
Both are year-round veterans with the Lasers.
Welch, a Red Raider senior, makes her second trip to Greensboro; Stotler, her first.
“You think you know what to expect, but there are thousands of people and they’re all fast, fast, fast. To be honest, it was intimidating,” said Welch, who went with a Laser 200-yard medley relay team two years ago.
She qualified in an individual event last year, but decided not to go.
This year, Stotler qualified in two events and wanted the experience. With two Lazers going, the team’s parents’ group raise the money to send Coach Steel with them.
“I’m a senior,” Welch smiled. “I wanted Kiley to be able to go too.”
“I’m nervous, but I’m excited too,” said Stotler. “My whole family gets to be there.”
Call them swimming families. Stotler is the second of five sisters, all swimmers. Welch is the second of three sisters, all swimmers.
At Nationals, as Welch found out two years ago, a swimmer can use all the support she can get.
This year, Welch qualified in the 100-yard backstroke with a :59.64. Her time just slipped under the :59.79 qualifying standard while earning her Class M All-State status and setting a Torrington High School record.
Stotler was even closer to qualifying marks with her 2:11.78 in the 200-yard individual medley and :53.56 in the 100-yard freestyle.
Cutoff times for the events are 2:11.79 and :53.69.
Like Welch’s time, Stotlers’ were significant marks in Connecticut.
Her 200 IM time, set in the Class S boys trials, was a little lower the time she recorded while setting a league record at the BL Championships. Her freestyle time came with a Northwestern relay team that finished sixth in the Class S boys finals.
“You think you’re like the top of your league, but you’re not,” said Welch. “We’re ranked in the hundreds in our age group.”
The meet begins with an opening parade Tuesday, with preliminaries in the morning and finals at night in each event, through Friday.