No longer is the Manitou Springs girls swim team looking for state qualifiers as means of measuring success this season.

Coming into the 2022-23 year with several state qualifiers returning from last year, this team has standards and expectations it’s hoping to live up to this winter.

After fielding a relatively small team last season, the roster has grown heading into the year, which is exciting for the team members and for coach Whitney Nuci.

“At our first day of practice, we came out of the gate strong,” Nuci said. “They handled it well. With the team last year, it was a great experience for them to get to state and see the caliber of swimmers that they’d be competing against.

“All across the board last year at state was more of an experience. We just didn’t know what to expect when taking such a young team.”

With that experience now under their belts, the Mustangs are looking not just to replicate the feat of earning some state qualifiers, but increasing the number of qualifiers and bettering the results.

There is a strong group of leaders that gained valuable experience at the state meet and are now pushing more girls on the roster to get there and to compete. Grace McCumber, Summer Tenpas and Theron Heim were all on the medley relay team that made it to finals and want to push themselves to higher levels.

“We have a pretty good shot of getting a good group of girls to state,” Heim said. “Everyone has been doing well from preseason to these first days of practice. Everyone looks strong and super-fast and I’m proud of them already.”

State is a long way away, so it’s important for the team to also turn their focus to immediate competition. Nuci is excited to get her team in the pool against some of the top teams in the state and even scheduled a dual against Pueblo County.

That will provide some high-level competition for the girls but it’s a challenge that they’re willing to take on.

“A lot of these girls have shown the drive and the hunger for it,” Nuci said. “Now it’s just training at that level so they can compete.”

It’s a process that should play out through the course of the season. They’ll  be testing that drive against league opponents first, then trying to battle it out with teams like Pueblo County and then heading to bigger meets like the Cheyenne Mountain Invite in December.

As they try to improve their finishes at state, the Mustangs are also hoping to finish better in areas across the board; one of those areas is the league standings.

“We have a great shot at finishing at least second because of our numbers,” Heim said. “It’s big, considering that last year we didn’t have a ton of girls.”

A bigger roster can certainly translate into more competition in practice. That’s going to be a crucial piece of this Manitou team’s development into a girls swim program that is among the best in the state.



Head coach: Whitney Nuci

2021-22 result: Finished 27th out of 32 teams at the state tournament

Key returners: Sophia Hyman, Theron Heim, Grace McCumber, Summer Tenpas

First competition: Nov. 30 tri-meet, St. Mary’s and Englewood at Manitou

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