The swimmers for the Boulder Panthers have put in the time, work and determination to be one of the best at the state meet.
For five straight seasons, the Panthers have finished in the top six of the team standings at the Class 5A state meet. It's a mark the team has taken pride in achieving and aims for again this year. Everyone has stayed together and enjoyed the success over the years with each other.
"We have a family approach," Boulder's Max Kreidl said. "We're always together every race hyping each other up and never putting ourselves down because of one bad swim."
Life has been good for Boulder at the state meet. But one goal felt just as big, if not bigger, for the team last year: defeating rival Fairview in their dual meet 174-121 for the first time.
"We always talk to our teammates that are a little bit older that never did it," Boulder's Grant Freeman said. "Beating them was definitely a big motivational boost for us."
The Panthers have been moving in the right direction over the years and now have a win over their rivals that will fuel them for the 2019 season. The extra fuel will be needed for a team that is smaller in size and will rely on versatility to match their recent string of success this spring.
"We obviously lost a lot of strong seniors, but everyone is improving a lot," Kreidl said. "We feel we can put up a good showing this year."
Instead of boasting nearly 30 or more swimmers like previous years, Boulder comes in with less than 20 on its roster. Kreidl and Freeman are two of seven swimmers that return from competing at the state swim meet last May. With a good portion of the roster being juniors or seniors, experience will be an advantage they do have with the smaller team.
The team has been working on key fundamentals and technique in the pool during the preseason to get off to a good start this year. In addition to their early development, the team is looking for which swimmers can step up and take on a bigger scoring role this year, according to Kreidl.
"We just need to look for new people to step up in those roles," Kreidl said. "We'll be smaller, but that just means we'll be more tight-knit with this group."
Another way that Boulder hopes to overcome a smaller roster is to excel with their relays. The teams that will swim together have been getting extra work in during the preseason and remain focused on putting up fast results.
"We work on swimming together well," Freeman said. "A lot of success at state comes from the relays. If we can swim well in our relays together, that will help the season get off to a good start."
Dual meets with local schools Monarch and Legacy will set the tone for Boulder on whether they can sustain their recent success with this smaller team. Momentum early could go a long way towards an important final month of the season, a month that starts with a highly-anticipated dual against Fairview on April 16.
"We obviously want to beat Fairview again," Freeman said.
A win over Fairview could be the jolt needed for Boulder in the final stretch to see another strong run at the state meet in Thornton.
"We can aim for another top finish at state," Kreidl said. "The relays are going to be really important. If we can get one or two fast relays in, that will definitely help us as a team."