DHS swimming ready to dive in – literally

For the Durango High School boys swimmers, there’s nothing like sleeping in their own beds before jumping into your own pool.

After almost two months on the road, the Demons finally are home today for their first – and final – home meet of the year. It’s also their final meet before the Western Slope District Championships.

DHS interim swim coach Matt Seagrave said it couldn’t have come at a better time, too – “crunch time.”

“There’s more comfort (at the Fort Lewis College pool), but at the same time all the guys have the ability to hit that proverbial switch: ‘OK, it’s time to swim,’” Seagrave said at Thursday’s practice at the FLC pool.

Sophomore Jesse Rubenstein, who will be swimming the 50 and 100 freestyle races today instead of his usual 500, is one of those looking to hit that switch against the District 51 swim team, which is comprised of swimmers from a number of schools in the Grand Junction area.

Although he said it will be tough to beat the Grand Junction conglomerate because of its superior numbers, he said he wants to see all of his teammates post their best times.

Having a raucous home crowd would help, Rubenstein said.

“It almost makes you want to go faster because there’s people here you know, and you want to impress them,” Rubenstein said.

Seagrave said the Durango relay teams will be crowd pleasers. Throughout the season, Durango and District 51 have been neck and neck in those races, and that isn’t likely to change today.

The 200 medley relay and the 400 free relay both will feature good competition, he said.

“Relays are fun. ... If you want to see those, you have to stay for the whole thing,” Seagrave said with a laugh. The 200 medley is the first off the blocks at the dual meet at 4 p.m., and the 400 free finishes it off a couple of hours later.

But there’s plenty to enjoy in between.

Since today’s meet is the final one before districts, Seagrave said swimmers right on the cusp of state-qualifying times – such as Josh Miller in the 100 breaststroke – will be looking to secure a spot in the state meet.

“My goal is for the guys right on the cusp to qualify,” Seagrave said.

Carl Sallee is chasing his own school record in the 100 butterfly set at 55.51.

Then there’s Thananpot Rujinunpanich, whom the team just calls “Coco” on the account nobody knows how to pronounce the foreign exchange student’s name. From Thailand, Rujinunpanich didn’t have any swimming background before he joined the team this year, Seagrave said.

Rujinunpanich started out swimming a two-minute 100 freestyle; now he’s down to 1:10 – without flip turns.

“He’s on the cusp of literally taking a minute off,” Seagrave said.

For the first time in years, Durango fans will get to see the Demons dive today, too. After a long stretch without a dive program, coach Mark Fleming has three competitive divers, and the interim head coach said opposing coaches have been impressed all season with the technical dives Fleming has been able to teach his divers.

jsojourner@durangoherald.com