Purely by accident, Lewis-Palmer girls' swimming coach Alan Arata created a scenario that got the blood pumping this week at team practices.
While slotting and sorting his 32 swimmers for this weekend's Rampart Invite, a strange thing happened. He found that exactly half of his swimmers consisted of returning letter-winners. The other 16 were newbies to varsity swimming.
"It was a perfect split," Arata said. "A lot of times, all the best swimmers end up on one team. I wanted to do something different this time."
Suddenly, the weekend had a much larger purpose with two separate teams from the same school swimming not only competitively, but also with class pride on the line.
In the end, the Lewis-Palmer "Veterans" won the meet with 487 points, but the Ranger "Rookies" also made a name for themselves, placing fourth overall among the 12-team field, which also fielded two teams from Rampart and Douglas County-Castle View.
"We didn't have a meet like this when I was a freshman," Rangers senior Olga Britton said. "I think the freshmen had a little fun when they were able to beat some of the seniors, but overall, this meet was a lot of fun. It makes us a better team, but there was a little rivalry in this."
Air Academy finished second, followed by Rampart's varsity squad. The consolidated varsity team from Douglas-Castle View finished fifth.
Britton claimed one of four individual titles for the Rangers' top team, while Rampart junior Julie Henninger won the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke to pace a Rams team that took top honors in three individual events and also the 200 and 400-freestyle relays.
Julie Day and Cailey Baker placed second in the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle, respectively, for the Lewis-Palmer freshmen team.
"It was fun to try something new, to have competition against our own team," said Day, the eighth member of her family to swim for Lewis-Palmer, with the last set to enter the school in three years. "We have a big freshman group, and it was an awesome experience."
Arata knows he probably won't in the near future have the wave of freshman swimmers join his team, so he was sure to take advantage of the unique opportunity. Who knows, it might have helped both teams, especially the experienced ones, swim to greater heights.
"In the relays, the freshmen really wanted to beat the veterans," Arata said. "The veterans were cool about it, but they didn't want to get beat by the rookies. What I liked is how the young kids made the older girls step up. Some of them were really wiped out, but they found something when they needed to."