Charles Sturgeon's name wasn't well-known in swimming circles during his first three years at Palmer. Now, everyone in the state is more than aware of what he's capable of in the pool.
The senior not only won both the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke at the Lightning Invite in Thornton over the weekend, he did so in record fashion. His times of 52.24 seconds in the fly and 58.73 in the breast were both meet records.
"It's a great feeling to be able to set some records at a meet that has so many good teams and swimmers every year," Sturgeon said.
"Knowing the hard work and training is paying off is very rewarding, and it makes you feel good."
Sturgeon swam on mostly relays his first two years at Palmer. Last year, he made progress and qualified for the 5A state meet in several events, finishing 23rd in the 200 IM and 25th in the breaststroke.
Now, he's ranked in the top six in the state in four events, and his coach, Kayla McGilvray, couldn't be prouder.
"It's unlike anything I've seen before in the seven years I've been coaching," she said. "You usually tend to see a leap between freshman and sophomore year, and then steady progress. But Charles has put himself on a whole different level. I've known he was a good swimmer for the last three years, but he's perfecting his stroke, and it's really pretty swimming."
Sturgeon has several school records on his résumé, as well as meet and pool records around the city and state. He says a typical week of training in the offseason included 20-24 hours per week of either swimming or lifting weights.
"Coming into my senior year, I knew that swimming in college was something I wanted to do, and that it was going to take a lot of dedication every day," he said.
"I've been trying to follow up on that, and this past weekend showed that it's paying off."
The hard work helped Sturgeon earn a scholarship to swim at Division-I George Washington University next year. But he's not just a jock - Spurgeon is a gifted student who will be going pre-med in college and studying biochemistry.
He enjoys solving Rubik's Cubes in his spare time, and says he averages about 30 seconds to solve one of the puzzles.
"My fastest time ever is 17 seconds," Sturgeon said.
His high school coach says his college coaches are in for a treat.
"I would imagine the GW coaches are really excited, because Charles hasn't reached his potential yet, and he's just starting to figure out that if he fine-tunes the small things he's going to be even better," McGilvray said. "They're getting a kid who works really hard and who is going to be a good teammate. He's a diamond in the rough, and he's just now coming into his own."
As Spurgeon chases his dream of winning a state championship, he's transformed from a kid who didn't speak up much his first three years, to a leader and team captain.
"I'm focused on being a leader who keeps things positive and light," he said. "As much as intensity is helpful in training, it's important to keep things light and have a good relationship with everyone on the team."