It's going to be an all-out war with all the great programs that will now be competing against one another. —Joe Pereira, president of Utah Swimming Coaches Association
Massive reclassification in the offseason should shake up the high school swimming competition considerably. All classes should see noteworthy changes, from the 3A through the 6A levels, but it looks to be 5A where the changes should bring about the most intense competition.
"5A is the classification that's going to be the big battle. I mean, it's going to be an all-out war with all the great programs that will now be competing against one another," said Joe Pereira, who is the President of the Utah Swimming Coaches Association, along with being the Skyline head coach. "The team that performs the best, and then has things go their way — it's going to be a well-earned whoever wins it this year."
Pereira's Skyline program took both the boys and girls team championships competing in 4A last season, and should certainly be considered one of the favorites most years, although Pereira believes his team may be a bit weaker than in most years.
There's no clear favorite in 5A according to Pereira, although several teams look to be viable contenders for the state championship. Those teams include Brighton, which has long been a top 5A program, Cottonwood, which fields some of the top swimmers in the state, and Olympus, along with Skyline and maybe a few others.
"It's really a mess sorting out which team could do what because there really are so many really good programs," Pereira said. "It should make for a great competition and I really believe whoever wins in 5A could be the 6A champion, if they were to compete among those schools. There's a lot of teams that are looking really good."
Defending boys champion Lone Peak is one favorite, according to Pereira, although American Fork is a rising program which could give the Knights a run for the money.
"There's some really good programs in 6A, but there's a really big dropoff from the top teams," Pereira said. "A lot of the top 5A teams last year stayed in 5A while some of the programs that are a bit weaker got bumped up to 6A. So it's interesting how that worked out, but we'll see if someone can rise up to challenge Lone Peak, American Fork and some of the other top programs."
For years Park City has ruled the waters in 3A competition, but a bump up to 4A classification should see the Miners actually being challenged for both the boys and girls competition. First and foremost amongst those who could contend with the Miners could be Sky View, which won the 5A girls competition before being bumped down in classification due to some lost numbers.
"I don't know how many of those top swimmers Sky View lost, but if that team is intact from last season, then yeah, they could definitely challenge Park City," Pereira said.
Not much is known about 3A at the outset of the swimming season, and the lowest classification has fluctuated somewhat with top teams in recent years.
"It's going to be a free-for-all in 3A, but there's some good teams there," Pereira said. "It's a bit different in that classification because of the depth, so one or two really strong swimmers can really play a big part — more so than with the bigger schools."
The state championships will be held from February 8-10, with the 4A, 5A and 6A competition held at the South Davis Recreation Center instead of at BYU, due to ongoing reconstruction of BYU's pool.
"It's going to be different and we'll see how it affects the competition," Pereira said. "There won't be all the teams on the deck cheering loudly, but it is a fast pool, so look for the potential of some records being broken."