MONUMENT - Andie Turner is a star high school swimmer on the rise. And in less than a month she will likely be competing against a four-time Olympic champion.
Turner, a Lewis-Palmer High School freshman, is ranked third in Class 5A in the 100 backstroke. The defending state champion in the event is Regis Jesuit senior Missy Franklin. The same Missy Franklin who won four Gold medals at last summer’s London Games.
“I know I’m not going to win against an Olympic Gold medalist, but I’m telling myself to try my best and have fun,” Turner said. “I’m hoping to get second.”
Turner and Franklin are no strangers. They went head-to-head in a 25-yard backstroke sprint elimination event in December 2011. The finals came down to Turner and Franklin.
“They were pretty much dead even underwater,” said Lewis-Palmer coach Alan Arata. “That’s where Andie’s strength lies. She can kick extremely well underwater. The water just seems to move around her.”
Turner, 15, is enjoying the best season of any Lewis-Palmer swimmer. She has 14 first-place finishes, four seconds and three thirds. She has qualified for the state meet in the 100 back, 50 free, 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly. She has also qualified in all three relay events.
“I think she could qualify for every event if we put her in at the right time,” Arata said.
Arata has been working with Turner since she was 10. Arata, a former Air Force Academy swimmer and coach, was more of a consultant before this season. Arata’s son, Ryan, a freshman at Stanford, has also worked with Turner.
“She swims the same events as Ryan,” Alan Arata said. “We’re kind of brining her along the same way we did Ryan.
“She’s one of the easiest athletes to coach that I’ve ever had. She has a lot of confidence in what we do. She has the kind of skills I like to bring out in athletes.”
The 5-foot-4 Turner, who swims club for Colorado Springs Swim Team, has a season-best time in the 100 back of 57.92. That places her second behind Chaparral’s Makenna Wilson (57.73).Franklin is the defending state champion at 52.76. Franklin has not competed in the event this year during a high school meet, but is expected to do before state.
“For Andie to do her best is all I want,” said Turner’s mother, Nancy Roberts, who also is an assistant coach for Lewis-Palmer. “I know she’s not a world-class swimmer. She isn’t 6-2 with size 13 feet (like Franklin). But she’s very driven and she’s very disciplined.”
Turner is the consummate swimmer. She trains year-round (11 months with her club team), up to 25 miles in the water per week.
“It’s mostly what you’re born with,” said Turner, who maintains a 4.0 GPA. “I never worked on any other strokes besides the back stroke and butterfly.”
Last summer, Turner added to her training regiment by competing in triathlons. She competed in events in Salida and Montrose, winning her age group in each race.
“I just fell in love with it,” she said. “I plan to do more of them this summer.”
For now, however, Turner will be doing all she can to make a good showing at next month’s state meet at Edora Pool in Fort Collins.
“There are certain things Andie still needs to learn how to do,” Alan Arata said. “Mentally stronger is where she’s going to make her ground up.”
Tickets for the state meet go on sale in early February. For more information go online to www.chsaa.ticketleap.com.