Josh Day had a pretty good idea that the boys' swimming team at Lewis-Palmer would be pretty good when the program got off the ground in 2005.
Day, now a second-year assistant coach for the Rangers, departed the program upon graduation in 2008, his team on a 33-match dual winning streak.
He left, then came back. Guess what? The Rangers still haven't lost a dual match.
"I knew we had a good group of guys when we got started," Day said. "We didn't realize how long we would stay unbeaten, and we've had our share of close calls. It's allowed us to gain that confidence and take that expectation into the state meet."
Among the swimming giants at this weekend's 5A state championships at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction this weekend, Lewis-Palmer won't have the depth to contend for the team title. However, the Rangers won't be intimidated, either.
During the course of an amazing stretch of 65 dual matches without a loss, longtime coach Alan Arata put his team in front of the state's best. By the third season, he felt his seasoned team was ready to take on regional competition, and the Rangers passed with flying colors with a win over state-power Arapahoe.
The next season, Lewis-Palmer narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of Highlands Ranch, ranked No. 1 in 5A at the time. In 2010, the reigning 4A champs beat Regis and later went on to win another team title.
"The first few years, it just happened," Arata said. "We had all those close meets, and we were finding a way to win them. As it went on, we all thought it was pretty important. But I throw lineups out there that'll tempt it, and guys have to stand up and swim well in different events."
The closest call came April 10, when reigning 4A champion Air Academy visited Monument Hill Country Club. After scores for the 12 events were tallied, the dual ended in a 93-93 deadlock.
"Air Academy came in with everything they could to beat us, and we took nothing for granted," Arata said. "It ended up in a tie, which is interesting and cool. The streak will go down some day, but when it does, it won't be because we didn't prepare, plan and execute."
Four-time state qualifier Michael Havenar, who will swim in the 200 and 500 free this weekend, is just glad it didn't go down on his watch. Now, like Day five years ago, Havenar has passed the torch to the next group who will fight to keep it alive.
"The guys are psyched to keep it going, and it really gives everyone a sense of accomplishment," Havenar said. "The streak is actually helping us all swim faster. We know we can go fast when it counts. It really comes down to the guy who swims his fastest time to get fifth or sixth place for that extra point."