Friday marks one week from the start of the 2017-18 state swimming and diving championships and area teams are using the final meets of the season to prepare for the biggest weekend in the sport in Colorado.
Lewis-Palmer aiming for another top finish
Cheyenne Mountain, the reigning Class 4A state champions, hosted the preliminaries for the 4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference championships, featuring last year's Class 5A fifth-place finisher Lewis-Palmer.
The Rangers, although still evaluating a few events for the state championships, are confident in the roster headed to Fort Collins next week - especially looking at what coach Alan Arata calls one of the best diving teams in the state.
Although the latest 5A high school rankings listed on the CHSAA website are outdated, according to Arata Lewis-Palmer boasts three top-10 divers, led by junior Savana Trueb, who Arata says should be ranked tops in 5A heading into the state championships. Anna Kemper and Ashlyn Foster are also projected to move into the top 10, according to Arata.
While Lewis-Palmer is preparing to rest and recuperate athletes for next week, a few Rangers are using this weekend as a last chance to qualify for state.
With a preliminary time of 1 minute, 10.52 seconds in the 100 breaststroke, Taylor Mohler was the latest Lewis-Palmer swimmer to qualify. Although others did not qualify on Day 1 of the PPAC championships, others still had memorable races.
"We had a few girls today swim their best times ever, and that was fun to see," Arata said. "Sometimes it's not the top swimmer that's doing it for you, sometimes it's someone else who does something really spectacular and gets everyone excited."
Cheyenne Mountain is keeping swimmers fresh, ready for repeat
One of Friday's most exciting preliminary wins came from Cheyenne Mountain sophomore Clare Sanderson in the 500 freestyle.
Up until two weeks ago, Sanderson was not ranked in Class 4A top 20 for the 500 free, but her finish in 5:19.07 for a top PPAC prelim time, puts her among the top seven in the state.
Cheyenne Mountain coach Kate Doane said that's the Indians' secret.
"She was like a 5:24 coming into the meet, so she dropped a ton of time today which is great," Doane said. "We don't like to swim the girls in the same event over and over again, so I told her we would wait until the end of the season, and she's doing really well. I think she has a chance to win state."
Doane said switching events keeps her swimmers coming back.
"They don't get stale and I think they believe in themselves to do any event," Doane said. "They don't know what they're going to swim until the day of the meet, and I think that's kind of healthy. I don't want them to freak out throughout the day."