By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
ALBUQUERQUE — Raising performances to go above the bar is one thing. Going higher, while the bar is moving, is another.
So, when the state swimming championships ended on Saturday, Clovis coach Vince DeMaio was pleased that his squad had made a modicum of improvement.
The Wildcats, who finished 20th overall in the girls standings last year, moved up for a tie for 18th after the final results were tallied at the Albuquerque Academy pool.
“This is incredibly fast. Virtually every single winner was an All-American. These kids are amazing,” said DeMaio of the meet where three state records were set. “You have to build your program based on that.”
Alyssa Pyeatt, the first Clovis competitor ever to swim in a finals race, finished 7th overall in the 100-yard breaststroke with a mark of 1:12.29.
“It wasn’t her best time, but she did swim well,” said DeMaio of Pyeatt. “And to be up there in that final round – that’s a big deal.”
Amber Espinoza, a sophomore, became the second Wildcat to swim in an individual event on the second day of the state meet. Espinoza, who finished 16th in the 100-yard butterfly in the prelims on Friday, moved up a notch with a time of 1:07.20 and took 15th overall on Saturday.
“I couldn’t qualify last year and it was really frustrating and we only got one relay into the second day,” Espinoza said. “This year, it was really fun.”
Espinoza was part of the 200-medley relay team for Clovis, along with Claire Simpson, Vickie Erdmann and Pyeatt that took 13th with a time of 2:05.99.
One notch better for the Wildcats was the 200-yard freestyle quartet of Yvette Fisher, Pyeatt, Espinoza and Erdmann. With a time of 1:52.88, Clovis finished 12th in that event.
“Each year, we’re climbing higher — like a ladder or a staircase. We take steps each year and this is a very significant step to have kids in the finals and in the consolation round, individually and in relays,” DeMaio said. “Everything’s a learning process and you have to experience it to move up. I’m real proud of all of them; I think they did a great job.”
DeMaio finished his second year of coaching Clovis’ swim team, which has only been in existence since the 2002-03 school year.
“Our goal, for our program, is to compete head-to-head with the best in the state,” DeMaio said. “And we won’t be satisfied until we get there.”