COLORADO SPRINGS — Cat Wright has given everything she has to the Cheyenne Mountain girls swim team.
Well, maybe not everything. Not yet, anyway.
Wright has been a standout for the Indians for the last three seasons and this year, her senior year, is shaping up to be different.
She came into the 2017-18 coming off the best season of her career, both individually and for the team. She claimed state championship wins in three events and the Indians captured their first Class 4A team title in 15 years.
Wright has played a crucial role for the Indians and to see everything culminate in a team championship, there was plenty of pride to go around.
"I’m sure her parents are so proud," Cheyenne coach Kate Diane said. "This is their caboose. I think they’re proud to see her come here, set records at Cheyenne Mountain and kick some butt. She’s excited and I’m excited too. The team is excited and so are her parents. I think it’s a big family thing."
Wright swims like she was born and raised in the pool. When she talks about her love for the sport, it's hard not to wonder if she in fact might be part fish.
Not only does she have love for swimming, but she has the drive and motivation to be one of the best to come through the state.
That process has made the last three-and-a-half years fly by for her. She has to give herself a reminder that her days with the Indians are numbered.
"It’s been so much of my high school life," she said. This is all I’ve ever known. It feels like just yesterday that I was a freshman. So I’m just trying to have my last year be a memorable one."
This last weekend, Wright competed in her final Cheyenne Mountain Invitational meet. She went out in style, setting a meet record in the 200-freestyle. Her time of one minute, 58.03 seconds was three-tenths of a second better than the previous record.
At least for now, even she's not swimming at Cheyenne Mountain after this year, her name will forever be associated with the program.
"It’s just really exciting to be in my last Indian Invite and start off the meet really well with the meet record and get all the girls going," Wright said.
That statement illustrates everything that helps the senior stand out, not just as a swimmer but as a kid and a teammate.
She wasn't proud of her record. It wasn't satisfying. It was exciting. Her ability to enjoy the atmosphere and still act like a high school kid doesn't go unnoticed to those around her.
"She’s a true leader, she’s a nice kid, she’s a fast athlete, she’s a great student, she’s just such a nice girl," Doane said. "She’s the whole picture."
After graduation, Wright will head to the SEC to swim at the University of Alabama. The prospect of big-time competition in the sport that she loves is as alluring as it would be for any other high school athlete.
But the current reality is there is still work to be done with the Indians. The team 15 years in-between state championships and that's not a timeline that's okay by program standards.
"I think it’s given us a lot of confidence just knowing that we’re the previous year’s state champion," Wright said. "We know it’s not going to be easy to get that title again so it just motivates us to know where we came from, but we know we have to get through this year."
It will take a complete team effort for the Indians to claim a second-straight title, but Wright is essential in that hunt. Doane praises her ability to diversify positions. From the time that she was a freshman, Wright has shown her coach that regardless of the kind of swim, she's ready to take on any challenge at any meet.
“She’s always that versatile little fish," Doane said. "She can go where ever. She’s improved in strength and every single asset. She can do everything. She’s improved in all of her events and help any team."
Right now the only team Wright wants to help is Cheyenne Mountain. The Indians are off until Jan. 11 when they take on Discovery Canyon in a dual meet. That will begin the Indians' road to state.
In the last three years, Wright has shined a little brighter in each state championship meet. As she looks to cap a memorable career for the Indians, her parents, teammates and coach will all hope this that year is the year she shines the brightest and walks away having given everything she has to her program and community.