It didn’t take long for the Discovery Canyon boys’ swimming and diving team to turn heads in Class 4A.
The Thunder debuted in the state rankings on April 5 at No. 6. Two weeks later, DCC moved up to No. 1, and didn’t relinquish the top ranking through the remainder of the year. The team entered the state championship weekend as the 4A favorite, despite having just one athlete ranked top in the state.
But the Thunder’s success came as no surprise for DCC coach Dave Burgess, who led Discovery Canyon to a historic season, earning him the title of the Gazette Preps Boys’ Swimming and Diving Coach of the Year.
“We were pretty confident that we would be the strongest team that Discovery Canyon has ever had,” Burgess said. “As the season went on you could see the guys growing in confidence, and winning the conference set things up for state. They had been talking about the state championships thinking that they could win it all - but on the flip side they were being cautious.”
Due to a uniform infraction Discovery Canyon was disqualified from the 400 free relay, which in turn, cost them valuable points and ultimately the state championship. Windsor, which placed fifth in the event, claimed the 4A state title by eight points.
“The guys are going to turn this into a positive, which speaks volumes to their mindset, maturity and their motivation,” Burgess said. “They are going to channel that into positive energy. They’re already talking about next year, and now they know what hard work they have to do between now and then and they’re highly motivated.”
While Burgess and the Thunder are losing their only state gold medalist - Brendan Byrnes, who claimed the 4A title in diving - and one other state medal-winner, Burgess thinks the 2019 club will have the right pieces to continue its success at the state level.
“Based on returning swimmers and the prospective incoming freshman, we look very strong,” Burgess said. “Our diving will take a hit, but we have one or two freshmen coming up and the prospects look pretty good. We look to be just as strong as we were this year.”
As the Discovery Canyon program begins to build a legacy, Burgess notes that his team's success this year, and in years to come, wouldn’t be possible without the large number of quality swim and dive clubs in the Colorado Springs-area.
“I’m very fortunate that I had the team that I had,” Burgess said. “We had such a strong squad this year, and 90 percent swim at the club level. I think our team drew from four different clubs, and we have so many strong clubs in the Springs. A lot of these guys came to me fast and my job is to keep them fast, and hopefully send them back a little bit faster than we got them.”