To say Cat Wright entered her senior season at Cheyenne Mountain with high expectations is an understatement.
Wright, who signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her athletic career at the University of Alabama next year, had five state gold medals, a dozen or so records, and a Class 4A state championship trophy to live up to.
But it turned out all right for Wright, the Gazette Preps 2017-18 Girls Swimming and Diving Peak Performer of the Year. It is the third time Wright has been selected for the honor.
Wright has been named by area coaches one of the area’s most consistent swimmers through her four years at Cheyenne Mountain, and her success at the state level - 16 top-5 finishes and three state records - speaks for itself.
Wright, who traditionally excelled at freestyle and butterfly events, shifted from the two events that brought home first and second place medals a year ago to focus on the individual medley this season.
“My whole life I’ve been a butterflier,” said Wright, who is the youngest of four siblings who also excelled at the butterfly. “My dad says it’s because (my siblings and I) all have strong backs, but just recently I’ve gotten pretty good at the IM.”
Wright said her transition to the IM meant that she had to work on her backstroke, which had always been weaker than the other strokes in her repertoire.
“I think the IM is just so fun because you can get really far behind in one part and catch back up in another,” Wright said, who uses her butterfly and freestyle to excel in the IM. “And being my favorite event, it has kind of given me incentive to get better at my backstroke.”
The change proved to be the right move for Wright. She broke Missy Franklin’s 2009 pool record in the 200 IM at last year’s Pikes Peak Athletic Conference Championships, and she also placed fourth in the 200 IM at the 4A state championships as a sophomore.
But as a senior she was ready for gold. She took first in the 200 IM at the 2018 4A state championships with a time of 2:02.52. She also placed second in the 100 butterfly - she claimed gold in that event in 2017 - and helped the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams to fourth-place finishes.
But Wright is just a piece of the Cheyenne Mountain swimming legacy, which has found itself in the running for a state title since she was a freshman.
“I think it all started with the boys’ swim team winning state my freshman year,” Wright said. “I remember watching them and saying, ‘I want to do that.' Going through the years, knowing that we had the potential to win was really important, but one really big thing is the record board in our pool.
"Having those records up there, and having goals in mind really helped with our improvement and breaking records.”
Wright said she currently holds 12 records on the Cheyenne Mountain board, and has two 4A state records with her 2016 200 medley relay team and her 2015 400 free relay team. She broke the 4A state record in the 100 butterfly as a freshman and held the title for one year from 2015-2016.