Avon Swim Team qualifies five for Midwest All-Star Championships in Des Moines
Top-10 swimmers in the state for each gender and age category were selected for Team Colorado
Five local swimmers have qualified for the Midwest All-Star Championships on Jan. 14-15 in Des Moines, Iowa. Andrew and Brian Molloy, Tyson and Breck Boyd and Tennyson Sipes earned Team Colorado spots to race against Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and North and South Dakota athletes. It’s the largest group Avon Swim Team head coach Meghan Hershey has ever sent to the annual USA Swimming 10-and-under, 11-12 and 13-14 age-group meet.
“I’ve only ever had one make it at a time before and that was a massive deal,” she said. The only club with more male representation is the 250-plus-member University of Denver’s nationally recognized Hilltoppers, a USA Gold Medal Club (ranked in the country’s top-20 swim clubs for team performance). Hershey’s age group team, which trains 60-90 minutes per day, 3-5 days a week, has 50 kids.
Their target through six fall meets has been qualifying for Midwest All-Stars, accomplished by either securing the No. 1 state ranking in a single event at season’s end or by finishing in the top-10 in the all-around performance points list, as accrued by performances at USA Swimming competitions. Andrew Molloy decided to take care of business via the former route, topping the state’s 11-12 boys breaststroke list.
Hershey described the younger Molloy’s mental resilience, saying he’s never fazed by other competitors. One of his chief training buddies, Tyson Boyd, has a slightly different psychological edge suited for long-distance swimming.
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“I think Tyson’s mind-over-matter ability is going to be one of his strongest assets moving forward,” Hershey said, also praising the young swimmer — who has been winning statewide events since he was 9-years-old and won the 400-meter individual medley last year as an 11-year-old — for being coachable.
“When I give him technical feedback in practice, he is able to make that change immediately, and he will then continue to focus on maintaining that alteration throughout practice,” she said. “He does the little things right and it enables him to excel against competition all over the country.”
The teammates’ older brothers — Brian Molloy and Breck Boyd — will race in the 13-14 division. For Breck, making the team is the vindication of his patient persistence.
“He’s had four years of pretty much having to work really hard and miss things,” Hershey said of the athlete who likely would have enjoyed this meet over its last few iterations had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic canceling it. Then, during last year’s long-course meters season, he barely missed the standard for Western Zones — the club’s other pinnacle meet on the calendar, only to dip under the necessary time a week after the deadline.
“He definitely had to push through two years of struggling, not having any of those ‘you’ve accomplished this’ moments, because that was taken away,” Hershey remarked. “I think it just shows his perseverance in the sport and how much further he can go.”
He’s already posted some gaudy times. At a recent meet, he put down the fastest 200-freestyle (1:48) Hershey’s seen.
“He’s starting to break the older kids’ records on my team at 14,” she said.
Brian’s qualification was a testament to his improved ability to “push through pain,” according to Hershey.
“He got out of a pool after one 100-back and said, ‘Man, I didn’t realize what it was to really try in that race,'” Hershey recalled of the natural breaststroker’s epiphany. He’s poured forth similar efforts even in his weaker disciplines.
“He worked really hard overall and swam all the events he needed to, which includes hard 400 IMs, the 500-free, 200-fly — things you don’t really want to swim if you’re not a butterflier,” Hershey explained. “And he was excellent in all of those.”
Rounding out Avon’s team is VMS student Tennyson Sipes, a name Hershey said we may be hearing again in the future.
“He loves the sport, and I would say he’s worked the hardest to be where he is,” Hershey said of the team’s only non-VSSA member, a distinction forcing him to conduct every session but Thursdays either by himself or with older athletes in the evening.
“He has a drive and a passion that’s incredible,” Hershey praised.
“It’s amazing how hard he pushes himself. He’s focused. He’s working hard in every set — he does not let up. It’s so cool to see his passion and how much he’s thriving.”
Similar to Breck, Tennyson hit the Western Zones’ standard a week after the qualification deadline.
“To see him overcome that disappointment and work hard all fall to make this team has been really awesome,” Hershey said, describing the athlete’s tendency to swing his foot out, even in freestyle, as being reminiscent of one particularly notable swimmer.
“I’ve never really seen anything like it. Apparently, Katie Ledecky did that too,” she said.
“I’m super proud of him; he’s done an amazing job of overcoming the disappointment from zones and putting all that into making this goal.”