By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
The Clovis High swim teams will finally feel at home today when they practice at the Clovis Community College pool.
The teams’ primary practice facility at Play Inc. was shut down late last month, forcing the Wildcats and Lady Wildcats to use the pool at Eastern New Mexico University for practice.
The vagabond existence has only made the teams stronger, coaches and swimmers said.
“I think it’s making us better, because we don’t have the best facilities to practice in,” said Clovis junior Amber Espinoza. “Even though we have to keep changing, I think it’s helping us.”
On Saturday, at the high-level Academy Invitational in Albuquerque, Clovis’ girls ended in 10th place and had a second-place from Espinoza in the 100-yard butterfly. The Clovis boys, who garnered only 43 points at the same meet last year, got 136 this time as the Cats finished 11th out of 14 teams.
In the 100 butterfly finish, Espinoza swept past top-rated Michelle Howell of Academy in the last 25 yards and ended with a personal-best time of 1:04.97.
“I had been going 1:07 a lot lately,” Espinoza said. “To go from 1:07 to 1:04 is really exciting.”
When the Play Inc. pool was closed, Clovis’ swimmers happened to be in Santa Fe at a high-altitude camp for five days. When they returned, they practiced at CCC for two days before relocating to Portales.
“It was kind of nice being in Santa Fe when it all first happened,” said junior Miles Ware, who posted a personal-best in the 100 freestyle on Saturday and finished seventh. “It’s a little difficult, but it’s just adversity you have to push through.”
Ware also qualified for state in two events. He joined Nick DeMaio, Josh Bussen and Landon Dalley to help the Clovis boys’ 400 freestyle relay team qualify for next month’s state meet, and he also qualified for state in the 50 freestyle by swimming the opening leg of the 200 free relay in 23.43 seconds.
Meanwhile, the Clovis girls team of Espinoza, Portia Gibbons, Katelyn Jeffs and Claire Simpson finished 12th in the 400 free relay —a state qualifying time as well.
“Our philosophy is whatever it takes, that’s what we’re going to do,” Clovis coach Vincent DeMaio said. “I think the idea of learning to solve problems, working around obstacles is a great part of our program. I think it’s also a great part of them becoming a success, not only at swimming, but in their lives.”