SALT LAKE CITY — Although winter is officially here in Utah, it hasn't stopped hundreds of prep athletes from taking a dive into the pool.
For the next three months, teams will be taking to aquatic centers around the state with hopes of making a splash in the state championship meet come February.
Bingham comes into the new season as the second-place finisher in 2012. That is, both the boys and girls teams from South Jordan placed second at state.
Some could argue that the Miners' great fortune was made possible by Skyline changing classifications. It's not a bad case by any means, but it was Bingham's best finish in years and it would be foolish to assume they've forgotten.
Andee Guy, Lindsay Westra and Diana Olsen are all returning for their senior season with Bingham, and they look forward to improving on a second-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
Kirsten Mathewson is also back to represent the Miners after claiming a second-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle event.
Brighton has seen an exponential amount of success in the past decade of prep swimming, including a current run of three consecutive boys and girls team titles.
Long Gutierrez is poised for a senior season that should be filled with its share of hardware. Gutierrez had a field day at the state meet last February, earning Top 10 state records in five separate events. Two of those, the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly, were the fastest times ever recorded in state history.
Riverton's girls team saw great success at the 2012 state meet, earning a fifth-place finish. Sophomore Abbey Sorenson claimed the top spot in the 100-yard backstroke, 50-yard freestyle and also helped the Silverwolves to first-place finishes in the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays.
Alta also had a strong showing for the girls team, earning a third-place finish. Brianna Francis claimed first place in the 100-yard backstroke, 200-yard individual medley and 400-yard freestyle relay, as the Hawks' team cracked the top three. Alicia May also returns for Alta and is eyeing to improve her second-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly, which was claimed by Brighton senior Kaitlyn Overtreet.
What to expect: Brighton has a firm grip on the crown, but who's to say the Miners are unbeatable? Bingham and Alta pose the biggest threat to down the reigning champs, and with a little help from Riverton and some Utah County schools, things could get interesting.
Skyline junior David Amirkhanashvili will be the backbone of this year's squad after claiming the top spot in the 100-yard freestyle, 400-yard freestyle relay, 200-yard medley relay and the 50-yard freestyle last year.
On the girls team, juniors Audrey Miller and Lillian Moore return to defend the Eagles' 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay titles. Moore brings the 200-yard IM and 100-yard butterfly titles to the pool, while Miller is looking to avenge a pair of second-place finishes in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events.
Mountain Crest has continually moved in and out of the top spot of prep swimming, and this year will be just as consistent.
Hailey Pabst will return to defend her individual titles in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles, while Anya Curtis and Ashlee Spider will be counted on to help propel the Mustangs.
For the boys, William Watts is back after a pair of second-place finishes at the state meet and also brings a 200-yard freestyle title to the table.
Shaylee Howard led Olympus to a third-place finish in 2012, with a first-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke and third place in the 100-yard freestyle event.
What to expect: Skyline has made a giant impact in 4A, and is sure to pick up where it left off at last year's state meet. The shift of power between Logan, Mountain Crest, Olympus and Springville has met its end. Now the battle for the 4A crown wages at Skyline's doorstep.
Judge Memorial reigns as the leader of the girls with three consecutive overall titles. On the other side, Park City has claimed two of the past three boys team titles to build a lasting dynasty.
Junior Amelia Wolfgramm will lead Judge after claiming individual titles in the 100-yard backstroke, 200-yard medley relay and 100-yard freestyle events.
With a second-place girls finish last year, Desert Hills has made tremendous strides to become a force in 3A swimming. Amelia Draney managed to snag first-place finishes in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events.
Juan Diego also welcomes back a multiple champion in junior Kelsey Leeson, who led the Soaring Eagle to titles in 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard freestyle relay.
Add fellow junior Alaina Finley (second place in the 100-yard backstroke) into the mix, and Juan Diego may have what it takes to mix things up.
Wasatch narrowly fell to Park City on the boys side, but the Wasps' only first-place finish came with Hunter Tolbert, Hunter Hallows, Brady Winward and David Finley in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
What to expect: Park City will have the hardest time defending the boys title with Juan Diego, Judge and Desert Hills nipping at its heels. For the girls, Judge finished an impressive 124 points ahead of second-place Desert Hills. If Juan Diego can catch a break, a new champion could be named.