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Boys' swimmer of the year: Ryan Arata, Lewis-Palmer
There isn’t much that Ryan Arata regrets.
Maybe one thing.
“I kind of wish I would have worked more on football,” said Arata, the recent valedictorian at Lewis-Palmer. “I was a decent quarterback, and as a kid was really good at throwing a football. With the leadership position that brings, I figured that fit me pretty well.”
Instead, Arata continued with his tenacious work ethic and leadership in the swimming pool, where he estimated that he took part in 330 to 340 practices a year, two to three hours each.
“Competition is really big for me,” said Arata, who led the Rangers to 4A state team crowns in 2009-10 and finished his illustrious career with eight state titles, two state records and nine All-American times. “I love to compete. That’s a big motivator for me.”
All that competition resulted in a staggering number of hours spent on fundamentals, speed work, technique and preparing for the next week’s meet. To Arata, his ability to decompress and unwind perhaps fueled his competitive fire more than anything else.
“Getting burned out definitely was an issue,” Arata said. “You have to take a break. When school starts, you don’t have a lot of other stuff to do, so I’d end up with random free time at home. That makes me want to go back to swimming. During the summer, I want to do tons of other stuff, so it goes the other way. Then, I don’t want to get back to swimming right away.”
On his snowboard, or flatboard when there’s no snow, Arata temporarily escapes the lap-to-lap litany of near-daily practices. At the same time, the risks with such activities nearly cost him dearly.
Last summer, he broke his wrist during such a getaway, preventing him from seriously training for achieving qualifying times for the Olympic trials. Then, during Christmas break heading into his final season at Lewis-Palmer, Arata flipped over a rail while snowboarding. His awkward landing on his back left him bruised, sore and worried heading into the beginning of the new year.
“It was really rough at the beginning,” Arata said. “Luckily, after a few weeks, there was very little sign of it left.”
Upon the end of another rigorous season, Arata is taking another well-deserved break before embarking on the next step in his life, the demands of swimming and academics at Stanford.
“I’ve already been to the (Manitou) Incline three times,” Arata said. “That makes me feel not so bad for not swimming.”