Devils’ Cassidy swims to state finals | VailDaily.com

Devils’ Cassidy swims to state finals

Eagle Valley High School freshman Jack Cassidy qualified for four events in this weekend's state swim meet. Cassidy swims for Glenwood Springs High School because no Eagle County schools have swimming programs. He travels every day to Glenwood and back for practice.

GYPSUM – Jack Cassidy covers more miles every day than any local athlete, but it’s worth every minute and every mile, he says.

Cassidy, an Eagle Valley freshman, qualified for this weekend’s state swimming meet as part of the Glenwood Springs team. He swims for Glenwood because no Eagle County high schools have swimming programs, and you just can’t keep the kid out of the water.

He makes the trek down and back through Glenwood Canyon every day, his mom or dad at the wheel and him doing homework, or whatever it is teenagers do in the car when there’s no cell phone service.

Practices are after school, so he heads to Glenwood, swims more than 6,500 yards, turns around and arrives in Eagle by around 9:30 p.m. where his homework and dinner are waiting. He finally gets to sleep around midnight.

“I basically go through the whole season pretty tired, but it’s worth it now when we’re tapering and dropping huge amounts of time,” Cassidy says. “All the hard work really starts to pay off.”

Rare qualifier

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Cassidy qualified for the state meet in the 500-yard freestyle, the 200 freestyle, the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay.

“No one can tell me when the last person made it to states. It’s really rare for a freshman to make it from the Western Slope,” said Mark Bauer, the Glenwood swimming coach. “I asked around before the season and no one could tell me when someone from Glenwood last qualified for the state meet, freshman or not.”

Cassidy put up four top-six finishes at the Western Slope regionals last weekend in Gunnison, and kept getting faster all weekend. He dropped five seconds from his time in the 200-yard freestyle, and 13 seconds in the 500 freestyle between the prelims and finals.

Swimmers can compete in two individual events and two relays at the state meet.

In the summer when he swims with Team Sopris, Jack and sister Kelly roll out at 5 a.m. for 6:15 a.m. practice in Glenwood Springs every day, and twice on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“Amy (his mom) drives him and his sister Kelly. It takes dedication for the whole family,” Bauer said.

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Jack’s the only swimmer from Eagle County.

Two swimmers from Aspen are part of the Glenwood team – Aspen doesn’t have a boys high school program either. But they practice in Aspen so it doesn’t really count.

“Jack’s dedication is demonstrated better than anyone’s because he has to travel 90 minutes a day just to get to and from practice,” Bauer said.

And he wants to practice, Bauer said.

“You don’t run into that very often,” Bauer said. “If his practice isn’t hard enough – doesn’t have enough yardage or the times aren’t fast enough, he tells me.”

“Lots of kids won’t push themselves that way. It makes him really easy to coach,” Bauer said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.