The tradition of excellence in the pool at Cheyenne Mountain is hard to ignore.
With three team state championships in four years, and placing no worse than fifth since 2014, the Indians swimming and diving team enters each season with high expectations.
But Kyle Leach's final year included a few individual aspirations as well.
The four-time Gazette Preps first-team All-Star earned his first Boys’ Swimming & Diving Peak Performer of the Year honor after completing one of the most consistent swim careers in the Pikes Peak region.
Though he already had seven state medals in individual events, Leach wanted more than just hardware.
“Everyone in this city is hardworking and really good swimmers as well. When the very first state rankings came out (in April) Nick Sherman from Pine Creek was up there (ranked No. 1 in six events), so I said, ‘I want to do that,’” Leach said. “So I came in and worked hard every day and started swimming multiple events at every meet I could trying to get those rankings.”
Leach succeeded, earning three No. 1 rankings, and came in at No. 2 in two more.
From there, Leach capped his final state championship weekend with a pair of individual titles, a 4A state record, and helped his relay teams to a pair of top-two finishes.
With a PR of 20.32 in the 50 freestyle, Leach brought home gold, and then set the state record in the 100 with a time of 44.33. He also helped his 200 medley relay team to a first-place finish, and anchored the second-place 400 free relay.
While most of his success came as a sprinter his senior year, Leach began his journey as a distance swimmer. He placed second and third in the 200 and 500 freestyles, respectively, in his first state championship as a freshman.
“I was 13 or 14 when I really got into swimming because of a knee injury from soccer, and I was a distance swimmer. And ever since then I just started coming down to shorter distances and I’ve been enjoying it more and more as the distance gets shorter.”
Leach will move on to the University of Missouri and expects to swim sprint to mid-distance freestyle at the Division I level.
And although Leach couldn’t help bring a third straight 4A state championship to Cheyenne Mountain, he believes that the tradition of success will live on.
“The year before my freshman year we finished 6th, and with my fellow freshmen and as a team, we decided that we wanted to be something great,” Leach said. “And now looking back, it’s great to know that I’ve helped start something that years and generations can continue to build and thrive on.”