Longmont swimmer Pierce Bigelow, 18, had an especially good day a few weeks ago.
“I was on the beach in Hawaii and I got a call from one of the reporters at BoCo Preps. He said, ‘Pierce, you’ve been chosen as BoCo Preps Swimmer of the Year, would you mind doing an interview?’ So, I did an interview and I was super excited. From the beach I called my parents and let them know, it was awesome,” Bigelow said.
“And then a couple days later I saw the article and shared it with most of my friends. That was just super fun,” he said.
It was Debbie Stewart, head swim coach for boys and girls at Silver Creek High School, who had nominated him. Stewart and Bigelow’s relationship goes way back.
“I’ve had Pierce since he was like six years old. He started swimming for me at Fox Hill Country Club on a Boulder Valley Summer Swim League team and just developed into the amazing swimmer that he was over the last four years with representing Silver Creek High School,” Stewart said.
But even with all that history, Stewart was still surprised by the award.
“I’ve nominated many, many swimmers over the years, and we’ve had a few, but just because you nominate them doesn’t mean they’re going to get it. So, it was exciting that he was able to get it,” she said.
“As coaches they ask us who we feel has the best representation from our team and why do we choose them,” Stewart said. “Well, Pierce has been a leader. He was first place in both of his individual events, and he helped both of our relays place high at state (June 25th conference) which helped us become state champion.”
Patrick DeCamillis, athletic director and assistant principal at Silver Creek High School, wasn’t necessarily expecting the big win.
“When I talked to coach Debbie, she said ‘We’ll be a top five team.’ And then they were the top of that top five team. That was a bit of a surprise to me,” DeCamillis said.
“But when I look at the leadership that (Pierce) provided, not really,” he said.
Last year’s swim season was cancelled due to the pandemic. DeCamillis had only praise for Bigelow and his fellow Raptors under trying circumstances.
“From what I saw, Pierce was a very relatable young man, he related well to his teammates. He was vocal but he also led by example as well. I can’t be happier for a kid and for a program, who lost their season last year (due to COVID) and didn’t pout about it. They just showed up to work and practice every day, did what they needed to do to be successful this year. I’m pleased and happy for each of them. They couldn’t have finished their high school career any better than they did,” he said.
For Bigelow, the swimming glory is shared. When asked about his athletic success, he quickly credited those around him.
“It’s been the support of my coaches and my family and friends ― constantly pushing me to be better and helping me get up whenever I get knocked down. Even if I get in a rut, there’s always a great support network to help me get out of that rut,” he said.
Being named Swimmer of the Year is also about more than individual achievement for Bigelow.
“Being named BoCoPreps’ Swimmer of the Year, it’s really a great honor to me. Friends of mine throughout the past four years have been named BoCo Preps Swimmer of the Year, and funny enough, all of them have been on the same club swimming team as me. So, it was really great to keep that in the team,” Bigelow said.
“Looking back at the history of it, they’ve all been great athletes and gone on to do great things. Being told by someone else that I was the best in the area is a great honor,” he said.
DeCamillis is pleased.
“I’m very proud of the program and what the kids did, from the top to the bottom. Debbie does a great job of running her program and making sure that everyone feels a part of the team. It’s a testament to her that they won the championship,” he said.
Bigelow will continue swimming at Middlebury College in Vermont, where he's heading this fall.