In less than three weeks, the first splash into the pools at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center and the Air Force Academy will signal the start of a whirlwind two days of the boys swimming and diving state championships.
Two-time defending champions Fossil Ridge (Fort Collins)
(Class 5A) and Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs)
(4A) are currently ranked first in the state by PrepSwimCO.com.
Programs like Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village)
, Regis Jesuit (Aurora)
and Fairview (Boulder)
will attempt to dethrone the Sabercats at VMAC on May 19-20; Thompson Valley (Loveland)
, Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch)
are chasing the Indians when the 4A meet gets going at the Air Force Academy.
As for the individuals who ascend to the top of the podium, expect the competition for those top spots to be fierce. Last spring, Fairview's Michael Zarian
was the only 5A swimmer to claim two individual state championships (a pair of swimmers won an individual title and were on a winning relay team).
Tommy Baker of Air Academy (US Air Force Academy)
went out with a bang as a senior in 4A, winning two individual titles and taking part on a winning relay. Samuel Willett of Silver Creek (Longmont)
closed out his career with two individual championships; Cheyenne Mountain's Brayden Love capped off his junior year with the same. Current Indians senior Daniel Carr
may be in line to top all of those performances.
With league championships coming up quickly, here is a quick look at some of the state's best who could enjoy a strong run at state:Colorado boys swimming leadersClass 5A
While Fossil Ridge's relays could be the key to the Sabercats pulling off the three-peat, Zarian is chasing his own moment.
Zarian won his first state title as a sophomore, taking the 500 freestyle. He defended that championship as a junior, in addition to winning the 200 individual medley.
Heading into May, Zarian owns the top 5A times in the 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly.
Zarian earned an automatic All-American time in both the 200 IM and 500 free a year ago, and was a little more than 2 seconds off the Colorado state record time of 1 minute, 46.74 seconds set by Cherry Creek's Jared Markham in 2011.
The Knights senior is currently second in the 100 backstroke to Gavin Olson
of Columbine (Littleton)
• Fossil Ridge heads into the month with the top time in each of the three relay events. The Sabercats' quartet of seniors Sam Ybarra
and Kris Malinin
, junior Danny Kovac
and freshman Josh Pales
lead Cherry Creek in the 200 medley; and Fossil Ridge has edged Broomfield
thus far in both free relays, with Malinin on both teams.
Kovac, who is the two-time defending champion in the 100 back, currently is seeded third in that event behind Olson and Zarian. Kovac is second to Zarian in the 100 fly.
Freshman Josh Pales
is seeded second in the 100 breaststroke to Joshua Lenzmeier
of Liberty (Colorado Springs)
; senior Shamzi Alkaff
is second in the 50 free.
• Regis Jesuit's Elijah Warren
nearly broke the Colorado state record of 54.68 seconds in the 100 breaststroke a year ago. Warren won the event as a sophomore in 54.82 seconds, earning an automatic All-American time. Warren's time is currently third in the event this spring.
• Denver South's Keegan Bundy
will be a force in the sprint events. Bundy's time of 20.97 seconds is currently first in the 50 free, and he's first in the 100 free at 45.92 seconds.
• Broomfield freshman Harrison Lierz
has the top time in the 500 free, not far ahead of Boulder's Nathan Rock
. Fairview's Duncan Lester
has the top score in 1-meter diving.
• Though Warren came close, no state records have been set at the 5A level since Regis Jesuit's Hennessy Stuart did it in the 100 backstroke in 2014. The Raiders' 400 free relay set a Colorado state record the same year.
Cheyenne Mountain has a wealth of depth and talent, and with Carr back in the mix for the Indians, opposing teams will have plenty of work to do.
Carr, the 2015 4A Swimmer of the Year, didn't compete for Cheyenne Mountain as a junior. But as a sophomore, he set 4A state records in winning the 200 individual medley and the 100 freestyle. He was also part of the record-setting 400 free relay team in helping Cheyenne Mountain end Air Academy's three-year run as state champion.
Carr currently owns the top time in the state in six individual events heading into May (50 free, 100 free, 500 free, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and 200 IM) and the Indians have the top times in the 200 free relay and 400 free relay.
Carr's 200 IM time isn't far off his 2015 state record of 1:48.93, or his 100 free mark of 44.67. He's also within striking distance of the 50-free state record of 20.28 set by Air Academy's Hunter Doerr in 2015, and the 100 back record (48.30) set by Thompson Valley's John Thorne in 2015.
Teammates Kyle Leach
and Jerry Birnbaum
are also keys to the Indians' run at a three-peat. Leach is currently second in the 50 and 200 free, and Birnbaum is second in the 100 back and third in the 50 free.
• Thompson Valley's Liam Gately
, the two-time reigning champion in the 500 free, has the top 4A time in the 200 free and trails Evergreen's Seth Hendrix
by .10 seconds in the 100 butterfly. Gately is second to Carr in the 100 free by less than a second.
• The Mullen (Denver)
200 medley relay team of seniors Joseph Schwamm
, Stephen Wickwire
, junior Blayze Jessen
and freshman William Chavez
turned in a time of 1:28.14 at the Overland Invitational on April 20. That's good for a lead of more than 6 seconds on Cheyenne Mountain, and would be good to top the overall state record set by Cherry Creek in 2013. Jessen is chasing Carr's top times in both the 100 breast and 200 IM, where he currently sits second.
• Valor Christian sophomore Casey Fellows
, who won his first diving title as a freshman, has the top scoring mark this spring of 509.75 points. A trio of Estes Park Divers trail Fellows.
• After a tremendous 2015 state showing in which nine 4A state records were set, only one state mark was broken in 2016: Air Academy's Caleb Hicks went 49.16 in the 100 fly, which broke his 2015 mark by .49 seconds.