MANITOU SPRINGS - One of Caitlin Seibel’s goals is to be the best swimmer on the Manitou Springs High School team. In order to do that, she will likely have to better the marks set by her older sister, Kelsey.
“It’s my goal to cream her,” a determined Caitlin said with a smile. “She may be gone next year, but she’ll still have her times around I can beat. I have two years to catch up.
The Seibel sisters are Woodland Park High School students. Kelsey, a senior, is one of the top four swimmers on the team and will be headed to next month’s Class 4A state meet in all three relay events. Caitlin, a sophomore, will be a part of at least one relay team for the Mustangs.
“She’s a little behind me,” Kelsey said of her sibling. “She might catch up to me. We’ll see.”
While the Seibel girls are competing against each other for top honors in the household, another Woodland Park student - Sheridan Decker - is trying to break new ground in the diving arena. The former gymnast is in her first season with Manitou Springs and is making great strides.
“It’s different than gymnastics,” Decker said. “I thought it would be a lot more similar. That’s what I was told. It’s opposite of everything in gymnastics. The reverses are terrifying.”
Decker spent most of her life as a competitive gymnast. But training five to six days a week (25 to 35 hours) got to be too demanding. She wanted to try something different and heard that many former gymnasts make transitions to diving.
“I didn’t swim because I’m not fast enough,” Decker said with a smile. “I’d have to doggie paddle.”
Decker is mastering the sport of diving rather quickly. She’s competed in two events, winning the La Junta Invite.
“She’s doing a great job,” said Manitou Springs coach Roy Chaney. “She’s really impressive for diving just two months.”
As if having to drive down Ute Pass already isn’t burdensome enough, the Woodland Park girls train at two different facilities. Swimming takes place at the city pool on Manitou Avenue, about two miles from Manitou Springs High School. But the pool does not have a diving board (due to liability reasons), so Decker has to drive an additional six miles further to train at Cheyenne Mountain High School.
“I drove down to the Springs pretty much my while life to train for gymnastics, so this is no big deal,” Decker said.
Neither is it an inconvenience for the Seibel sisters, who live in Divide and sometimes have to drive 40 minutes to for practice.
“We kind of enjoy it,” Caitlin said. “We listen to whatever radio station comes in.
“We’re also used to coming down here since we always did with our club team.”
Chaney and the rest of the team has made sure the three Woodland Park girls feel comfortable.
“Our team motto is `Ohana,’” Kelsey said. “Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”
Kelsey’s best individual event is the 50 freestyle. State qualifying time is 26.6 seconds. Kelsey’s best time is the low 27s. Two weeks ago she swam a 50 free relay anchor time of under 26.51.
“I’ve swam in every position,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey’s other individual events are the 100, 200 and 500 free. She has a combined seven first-place finishes this season, five seconds and three thirds.
Manitou Springs is ranked eighth in the state in the 200 free relay. Joining Kelsey are senior Hannah Linhart, and freshmen Veronica Morin and Samantha White. Manitou Springs is 15th in the 400 free relay and 16th in the 200 medley relay.
“We’re looking forward to state,” Kelsey said. “We stay in a hotel room and do a lot of team stuff.”
The Seibel sisters are also multi-sport athletes, running cross country for Woodland Park. Decker plans to pole vault this coming track season.
“I’m learning the basics right now,” Decker said. “Pole vaulting is also something a lot of former gymnasts do.”