Cheyenne Mountain junior Kyle Leach won't brag about it - but Thursday he beat the top senior swimmer in the nation.
Sure, it was just in practice and the top swimmer in the Class of 2017 happens to be teammate Daniel Carr. But it's worth a second thought.
"It's fun to race somebody with that much potential, with that much talent," Leach said. "It's just fun to say like, 'Yeah, I beat him once.'"
After skipping his junior season to focus completely on club swimming, Carr's decision to return to the boys' team appears to be helping in both victory and defeat.
On Saturday, the Cal-Berkeley commit, who is ranked as the top recruit by CollegeSwimming.com, broke two of his individual pool records and the Indians won their own meet, the Indian Invite, by more than 100 points. Leach and Jerry Birnbaum added two individual victories.
The Indians, who won the 4A state title with Carr in 2015 and without him in 2016, are glad he's back in their quest for a third straight title this season.
"Racing against him in practice teaches you not to be scared of anyone," Birnbaum said. "We're used to racing against the best person in the nation. You can't really get intimidated easily. You know what it's like to race against fast people and you train against it every day."
The Indians finished with 514 points, followed by Legacy (387) and Lewis-Palmer (383).
Carr, Leach and Birnbaum each went 4 for 4 in victories.
Carr led the way, winning the 200-yard individual medley (1 minute, 49.64 seconds) and the 100 freestyle (44.95). Leach won in the 200 freestyle (1:42.86) and 100 butterfly (57.68), and Birnbaum won the 50 freestyle (21.88) and the 100 backstroke (52.05).
Together, they kicked off the 12-team meet with a win in the 200 freestyle relay (1:34.41) and closed it with a pool record in the 400 free relay (3:08).
"I think we're in the right direction and they know they have a lot of work to do," Cheyenne Mountain coach Kate Doane said. "This is just a good third meet."
Carr, who was undecided about returning to high school earlier in the school year, said his high school teammates and representing the Indians were the two big factors in his comeback.
A chance at winning another state title also wasn't lost on him, he admitted.
"They won by a very large margin last year, which was so fun to see," Carr said. "I just want to be a part of it. That's a big motivation as well for me."
Besides Cheyenne Mountain, Marley Kaiser anchored Coronado to a slight win over the Indians in the 200 free relay (1:33.67-1:33.79), and Palmer's Charles Sturgeon won the 100 breaststroke (59.83).
Lewis-Palmer swept the top three spots in diving.