The Monarch swim team heads to practice before the sun comes up in the morning to get their work in. With such early practices, one of the roles for the team leaders is to get everyone engaged and ready to work hard when they arrive.
“For me, I try to keep everyone up,” Monarch’s Reed Henderson said. “Practices are early in the morning, so I try to bring the motivation to be there and keep everyone moving. Everyone is working hard and we just lift each other up.”
When the team gets going, they have a plan in place that is specific to every little detail imaginable. Every technique drilled, every stroke worked on and every discussion the team has is scripted to work on all areas needed to compete at the highest level, both in and out of the pool.
“Our team focuses on training with quality technique and top-end speed,” Monarch coach Amber Sullivan said. “We don’t just try to hammer out lots of yardage. We try to train different energy systems and to develop that top-end speed.”
“In addition, we invest in nutrition training and how to fuel bodies as athletes, how to fuel for race or performance days, and focus on mental strength,” Sullivan said. “We’re going on three years training like this. The kids that have the experience with this are developing and improving faster. That contributes to our individual performances and team performances.”
Up the road in Longmont, the Silver Creek Raptors have their work cut out to make practices efficient and effective. Their challenge is working around shorter practice times due to the Centennial Pool still being under construction and having to share the facilities at the YMCA with Longmont. For the divers, they make the trip every day to Frederick to the Carbon Valley Recreation Center so they have the facilities to work with.
“That’s a little tricky, but they’ve stepped up,” Silver Creek coach Debbie Stewart said. “Where it’s been most challenging is not having the blocks to work on. When we get to the meets, we take 15 minutes for a cram session with them. For the most part, the guys have done well with that.”
Though it’s early, the two teams have proven that their hard work and focus on the details is paying off so far this season.
Monarch began the year at the Legacy Lightning Invitational and worked its way into the team title discussion. They would defeat Highlands Ranch in a close race to win the invitational with 487 points.
“We’ve been working to come together, so it was a nice surprise (to win),” Sullivan said. “There’s still some room to grow for us.”
Three days later, Monarch earned a dual win over Boulder 175-120. Their depth pushed them to the win, as they scored the majority of the second, third and fourth-place finishes to outscore Boulder in the end.
“This is the biggest team we have had in a long time,” Henderson said. “It helps push each other and continues all the way up to the fastest people. Someone is always challenging them.”
Silver Creek has been just as successful with two dual wins and a second-place finish in the Estes Park Sprints meet. Their latest win came over Broomfield 100-83, winning in similar fashion that Monarch did over Boulder.
The depth for Silver Creek comes from a large freshmen class that has come in and performed at a high level.
“I definitely think the season so far is going well,” Silver Creek’s Connor Hassert said. “We lost a ton of seniors, but we have a ton of freshmen, and that’s a good combo that’s working well. Even though most of the swimmers are new, they are positive and eager to be a part of the team.”
Both teams are off this week from competition but remain hard at work on the details that have carried them so far.
Monarch is looking to win every dual meet on their schedule and to get a top-four finish as a team in their league meet. They also have aspirations to get a large group to the state meet in May.
“We would like to take that success and bring it into our workouts to stay where we are,” Henderson said. “We want to keep getting better and keep winning meets. Right now we’re on our base training to get back in shape and stay in it. We are working on our speed to get faster.”
For Silver Creek, another league title and top-10 finish at state is the goal this spring. To get their, they will look to grow together with a new group in order to add to the 11 swimmers that have already secured their spot for state.
“From what I’ve seen, we’ve been doing well,” Hassert said. “We want to do well at conference. We have four wins in a row, so it would be nice to get a fifth this year. We have a big team that will have a good chance for that and a good chance at state.”