As Sydney Buckley reached for the wall in the final 100-yard butterfly race of her high school career, the roar from the crowd said it all.
The Cheyenne Mountain senior has selflessly helped to lead one of the premier 4A swimming programs in the state the past four years, and on Saturday, the program gave back.
"The roar of the crowd when she touched the wall was chilling," Cheyenne Mountain coach Kate Doane said. "Parents and students in the crowd had signs that said '3-peat.' Sydney raced her heart out and brought it home, and I was so proud of her."
It was Buckley's third straight state championship in the 100 butterfly. What makes it more amazing is the fact that she had never swum the event until she was a sophomore.
Buckley's time of 55.85 seconds edged D'Evelyn's Brenna Bushey for first place on the podium, a place she's come to know well.
"I was nervous about repeating again, and I wanted to make everyone proud," said Buckley, who usually puts others before herself. "I knew everyone would support me if I didn't win, but it was important to me to win for my family, friends and teammates."
Buckley's team-first motto has made her not only a champion, but a respected leader on the Cheyenne Mountain squad for the past several seasons.
Doane says it was a fitting way for Buckley - who the coach said is the best she's had at the school in her six years - to finish her high school career.
"It was absolutely the way she deserved to go out; she's helped Cheyenne Mountain do so many amazing things the past four years," Doane said. "She has come out every year, worked hard and led us. Sydney is admired and she's a classy girl, and her heart is always in it for the team."
Buckley also finished third in the 100 breaststroke at the 4A state meet in Fort Collins, while helping the 200 medley and 200 free relays to third-place finishes.
The Indians took third in the team standings, their second top-three finish in a row. Buckley's strong all-around effort was key.
"It feels great, and I was just excited to be able to swim with my teammates this year," Buckley said. "We've had a great group and I'm proud of everything they did. It's still sinking in that I don't have to go back next year and try to repeat again. It's great to have a good high school career, and now to move on to the ultimate goal of D-I swimming."
Buckley will head to North Texas in the fall to begin the next chapter of her swimming odyssey. Her high school coach has no doubt she'll be successful.
"Sydney is going to make North Texas very, very happy," Doane said. "She's going to be amazing for them, and they'll be proud of her just like I am. We will definitely miss her. There are always new chapters, and she's made her mark at Cheyenne, and hopefully we'll have another girl who steps up and reaches the level she was at."
Buckley - who wants to study kinesiology and become a college swim coach - says the Indians will continue to be successful.
"I think they'll be just fine," she said. "I'm going to miss all of them because this year was the best year of all, and we have such a close group. They told me they'll miss me, so it'll be hard, but their swimming will be just fine."