ThunderRidge junior Annie Ochitwa claims her preparation before the final day of the Class 5A state swimming and diving championships was nothing unusual.
Ochitwa had recorded the state's best times in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle events during the season and had the fastest times in both events in the Feb. 14 preliminaries.
So what did she do to psych herself up for the finals?
“We stayed in a hotel,” Ochitwa said. “We got there and watched Food Network and went to sleep. Nothing out of the usual.”
She admits that she had lots of thoughts about foods she avoided while training.
“Yes, cake, lots of cake,” said Ochitwa.
Ochitwa must have dreamt about state championships as well as cakes because she claimed both the 50 and 100 freestyle championships on Feb. 15 at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton.
After finishing second as a freshman and sophomore in the 50 and coming in second and third in the 100 the past two seasons, she was motivated to stand on top of the podium this year.
Ochitwa captured the 50 with a time of 23.11 seconds, which was 0.15 of a second better than Legend junior Lauren Moden, who touched up for second.
“I really wanted to win and I knew I could,” Ochitwa said. “After the past two years, it made it even better to win this year. I was confident but swimming against all these girls, you get nervous. But I was confident the whole time.”
In the 100-yard freestyle, Ochitwa's 49.92-second swim, again placed her ahead of Moden, who was second with a time of 50.45.
“I put all the pressure on myself,” said Ochitwa. “I didn't feel any pressure from anyone else. It's amazing. It makes it so much better to win twice after the last two years. I definitely want to be first again next year.”
Ochitwa, who became the first individual state swimming champion in school history, also swam a leg on ThunderRidge's 200-yard medley relay team that was fifth.
Two other south metro swimmers were crowned state champions.
Arapahoe junior Ella Moynihan who entered the meet as the top seed in the 200-yard freestyle won the finals in 1:49.55, beating out defending champion Erin Metzger-Seymour of Ralston Valley.
“I was just so filled with pride for my school, I mean coming from Arapahoe with the year that we've had,” said Moynihan who was fourth in the 100 freestyle and was also on the Warriors' third place 200 freestyle relay team. “I wanted it so bad for my school. … Seeing all my teammates out there cheering for me was amazing.”
Moynihan made sure the finish wasn't close as Metzger-Seymour was timed in at 1:50.72.
“I was going for it,” said Moynihan. “All of us are best friends. I was psyched. We are all so talented here, anything could have happened. It all went in my favor. I had Erin right next to me and Shelly (Drozda of Mountain Range) and those are both crazy competitors. I knew it was not going to come easy. I had to go out and earn that win. I don't know if I could have swam any better. That was a personal best.”
Abigail Kochevar, a sophomore at Rock Canyon, captured the 100-yard backstroke with a winning time of 54.99 seconds. In addition to her championship swim, Kochebar finished third in the 50-yard freestyle.
“It feels good to be a state champion,” said Kochevar. “I've been working on my backstroke for such a long time and to get this is like everything. I felt I had a chance but I was so overwhelmed with nerves and it helped to swim.
Kaitlin Costello of the Douglas County/Castle View team may have finished second in the Class 5A state diving competition but she went home with a top honor at this year's competition after being voted by the state's coaches as the Class 5A Diver of the Year.
Regis Jesuit edged Fairview to win the state title, 254.50-248, in the team standings. Cherry Creek tied for fourth, Arapahoe sixth, ThunderRidge eighth, Heritage ninth and Rock Canyon 10th.
In Class 4A, Valor Christian sophomore Brooke Stenstrom won two events at the state meet at Eldora Pool Ice Center in Fort Collins.
Stenstrom captured the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.66 seconds and also was the state champion in the 100 freestyle with a time of 51.70. She also swan the final leg of the Eagles 200 yards freestyle relay team that finished second to Thompson Valley.
Valor was fifth in the team standings.