US AIR FORCE ACADEMY — Liam Gately is progressing into more of a sprinter than a distance swimmer. As such, he's taking on a new challenge at this year's Class 4A boys swim meet.
After winning the 500-freestyle a year ago, he won't swim that race. Instead, he's locked into the 200. And he's not off to a bad start. He won the preliminary race on Friday, coming in at a time of one minute, 40.79 seconds.
He'll swim in the coveted fourth lane during Saturday's finals where he hopes he can do a spot better than his second-place finish in that race last year. He also took the top spot in the 100-freestyle at 45.85 seconds.
"It shows the progression I've made in the last year," he said. "For the past three years I've been swimming the 500 and then maybe the 200. This will be the first year I drop the five."
Coming to the Air Force Academy played a big role in that decision. His coaches aren't concerned about the higher elevation than what Gately is used to. They think he can come close if not match his times from lower altitudes.
Improving the team finish is also a goal for Gately and the Eagles. They finished third overall in the team standings a year ago. If they can finish better than Valor Christian and inch closer to defending champion Cheyenne Mountain, it will be a successful way to finish the season.
"This year it was about getting as much of us back here as we could," Gately said. "It's state. Being able to spread us to each event gives us a little bit of depth."
Taking down Cheyenne Mountain is always a tough task.
But this year, there is more hype around the Indians than normal, specifically in the 400-fresstyle relay.
The team of Daniel Carr, Jerry Brinbaum, Westin Stieglitz and Kyle Leach think they set records. As in national records.
They need to finish the race under 2:59.00 to do that and coach Kate Doane is excited to see if they can pull it off.
"It's going to be awesome," she said. "They're going to go out and do the best that they can and try to put together their four best swims."
She also thinks a Colorado record would be great. The state record in the race is 3:00.84.
That record would be a nice get, but the real aim for the Indians is to come away with their third straight 4A title. It would be a nice addition to the girls swim title that the school won in February.
"Our whole goal is to get as many kids back today so we can have an awesome day tomorrow," Doane said. "The 400-free relay is the cherry on the cake."
The finals of the 4A boys swim meet will start at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Doors open to the public at 1 p.m.