4A boys' swimming and diving got tougher with Pine Creek, Coronado moving in

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Photo - Cheyenne Mountain's Kyle Leach won the 500 Yard Freestyle at the 2015 Boys Indian Invitational Finals on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at Cheyenne Mountain High School.  Photo by Spotlight Sports Photography
Cheyenne Mountain's Kyle Leach won the 500 Yard Freestyle at the 2015 Boys Indian Invitational Finals on Saturday, April 11, 2015 at Cheyenne Mountain High School. Photo by Spotlight Sports Photography

Over the past five years, Air Academy and Cheyenne Mountain have dominated the 4A boys' swimming and diving scene - not just in Colorado Springs, but in the state.

The Kadets won three consecutive state titles from 2012-14, and the Indians have taken the torch, winning the past two championships, and are eyeing a third.

"It just shows the strength that Colorado Springs has in swimming," Cheyenne Mountain coach Kate Doane said. "Our area has had some of the top swimming in Colorado - in both boys and girls - for many years."

The landscape in the area is about to get even more competitive, as Coronado and Pine Creek are both set to move down from 5A and join the 4A fun.

"The opportunity to race against that kind of competition all season is outstanding," Cheyenne Mountain junior Kyle Leach said. "We know who we're going to have to race and beat at state, and how hard we're going to have to try. We know how much talent is around this area, and it will make us work hard all season to try to get a third straight team title."

Leach is the defending 200-yard freestyle state champion. It's sure to be a great battle anytime he and Air Academy sophomore Griffin Ayotte are in the pool together. Ayotte finished third in the 200-free state title race last season, and is looking for more.

"Coronado and Pine Creek coming down to 4A will make things interesting, and I'm excited to compete against them," Ayotte said. "The 200 free is my favorite race. Kyle Leach is an outstanding athlete, and racing him always brings out the best in me. I know where I have to work to beat him, and think I can do it."

Cheyenne Mountain returns 16 swimmers with state meet experience, and is the prohibitive favorite to win another 4A PPAC title and state crown.

Air Academy coach Scott Newell has been at the helm for 10 years, and knows what it's like to have the kind of talent Cheyenne Mountain is returning.

"Last year, we knew Cheyenne would be tough, but we had enough weapons to run at them," Newell said. "This year, they're going to be so far ahead of everyone else because of all the weapons they have at their disposal. It cycles through, just like any other sport. We've graduated so much talent in the last few years, and our dynamics have shifted a lot."

Air Academy has placed in the top three in the state for five straight years - the Kadets were second in 2015 and tied for third last year.

There's a big-time respect between Air Academy and Cheyenne Mountain.

"Scotty has a way of having those guys swim fast every year at the state meet," Doane said. "He's brought a lot of enthusiasm to Air Academy swimming, and he runs a program that kids really want to compete for."

While Cheyenne Mountain is the favorite to win this year, Ayotte is hoping he and his teammates can be successful, while building toward the future.

"I think we'll be able to win a team title before I graduate - maybe my senior year," he said. "There's no pressure on us - we just want to swim as fast as we can and support each other, no matter what."