Published: April 5, 2014
When locating Air Academy swimmers Saturday at the Indian Invite at Cheyenne Mountain, spectators typically just had to find navy blue caps bobbing through the water.
Then again, there's always an exception to the rule.
Thanks to Brennan Mays, throw in a little orange to the Kadets' colors after the senior discarded the typical cap for Saturday's finals. It didn't matter much in the 500-yard freestyle, when the well-coiffed Mays clocked a time of 5 minutes, 0.34 seconds in a runaway victory.
"I just don't find it that comfortable wearing it," Mays said. "When I was a little kid, I always had to wear it. So when I found out I didn't have to wear it, I liked it."
Well, it wasn't as if Mays had a say in the matter, at least as in his early days.
"We order nice caps to match our suits, and everyone gets a cap," longtime Kadets coach Scotty Newell said. "As a freshman, Brennan, in his stoic, unemotional manner, said he wasn't wearing one. Kids are kids, and it's fun to work with every kid. Some gingers (redheads) are really stubborn."
By his sophomore year, Mays met Newell in the middle, agreeing to don his navy blue and silver cap at "big" meets. His top-five finish, cap included, in the 500 at the state 4A meet helped Air Academy secure the 2012 state title, a feat repeated last May.
And yes, Mays sucked it up and wrapped the rubber cap around his orange locks.
"For big meets, I'll wear a cap," Mays said. "I've gotten used to it more. It gets really hot, I guess, especially for longer events. I feel it sometimes can overheat and cause problems."
By the time Mays touched first in the 500, more than seven seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, he became the fourth Kadet to win an individual race. In addition, two relays touched first, powering Air Academy to the title, outdistancing Cheyenne Mountain by 62 points.
"We spread the wealth a little bit," Newell said. "We've taken on that role, that guys see it's their turn, and it's not a negative thing. We've gone through that in the past, thinking 'I have to beat that guy.' Now, guys are stepping up, and it's not negative."
Also for Air Academy, Caleb Hicks (200 individual medley), Hunter Doerr (50 free and 100 butterfly) and Tommy Baker (100 free) recorded first-place finishes.
Lewis-Palmer captured event titles in diving (Zach Mullins) and 100 backstroke (Cade Bains).
Bains, who scored points in the 200 IM at last season's 5A state meet and had a state-qualifying time in the 100 butterfly, showed his versatility by winning a race in a different event.
"In basketball, you play the same position every game, and in track, you generally run the same events," Rangers coach Alan Arata said. "In swimming, you can mix it up, and this was a good meet to do that. If you beat the same dead horse for a long time, sometimes the result is not good. Sometimes, swimming better in a different event helps them in everything they do."