The high school swimming season in New Mexico is quick, with eight meets if a swimmer is fast enough to qualify for the state meet. Socorro has several swimmers that appear to be poised to do it.

“We have eight more students swimming than we did last year. So, the program’s growing in numbers. They start at the beginning of the season at a certain point, and they’ve been getting progressively faster getting personal records. They’re doing quite well, but we are young in some spots,” Socorro swimming coach Denise Gilson said.

Socorro’s very young, with 13 of its 21 swimmers in eighth or ninth grade, but the talent and speed are starting to show up early.

So far this season, eighth-grader Riley Sewell entered Socorro’s top-five record board with a 6:18.67 clocking in the 500-meter freestyle. “Old guys” like senior Kaden Dow are pushing the envelope too, and Dow’s also made his way onto the record board this season in the 50-meter freestyle (24.46).

Dow, who laid out swimming for a couple of seasons, also splits his time wrestling.

“He’s a very talented athlete at whatever he puts his mind to. He studies the technique, does the work and swims. He swam a lot when he was younger. He took a couple of years off, and he’s also wrestling, so he’s a dual athlete,” Gilson said.

Gilson points to the support her swimmers receive as one of the reasons for Socorro’s success and growth.

“Our community is supportive. We push each other. We work hard, and we have a lot of fun. We just had our home scrimmage, blue versus white. We split the team in half, and they competed against each other, which was how we celebrated. We had silly trophies and a high point,” Gilson said.

It’s a team-building process, just like working with the summer swim program and reaching out to younger swimmers to encourage participation at the next level.

“Riley and a couple of other students practiced with the team last year as seventh graders, but they don’t get to compete. This is their first year being able to compete. They do summer swimming. Abby Cadol is also one of our eighth graders, and she’s been trimming down her times,” Gilson said. “Sky Sessions is an amazing swimmer and usually places very high in her events.”

Local sports fans will also remember those names, considering both athletes are cross-country runners, and Cadol, an eighth-grader, was the girl’s district champion this season. There’s a tie-in between the two sports.

“It’s mutually beneficial. In swimming, you must deal with breathing, but it’s also way easier on your joints. It’s like active recovery. We encourage multi-sport students to swim, and we work with them. Jacob Angel joined the team, and he’s also wrestling. He comes a couple of nights a week. So, we try to support other sports because swimming is really good for your body.” Gilson said.

Socorro is setting its sights on making the state meet by taking advantage of its swimmers’ overall team speed in the relays. Before that happens, there’s still some learn[ng, and it comes from being in the pool and poolside.

“Swimming is a technique-based sport; you can see their progression as you go from heat to heat. You go to some meets, seeing the best and fastest swimmers in your district or the state, and you can learn a lot from their techniques. The kids watch the races, analyze them, and talk about them. It’s fun. Then they apply it to themselves,” Gilson said.

The Socorro swimming teams include Gilbert Armijo, Ben Watkins, Connor Johnston, Rylan Hicks, Tig Baker, Kaden Dow, Kaden Kaiser, Timur Aitbayev, Riley Sewell, David Gaytan, Jacob Angel. Sky Sessions, Eryn Esquibel, Alytecia Chavez, Belen Padilla, Abby Cadol, Heavenly Chavez, Avery Timmons, Anea Scates, Estella Saavedra, Breanna Lucero.

The remaining 2024 swimming schedule includes the Academy Invitational (Jan 19), Belen Invite (Feb. 10, District 5 championships (Feb. 16) and NMMA state championships (Feb. 23)