Cottonwood hasn't been a name on top of the Utah high school swimming ranks in recent history, but that could easily change after this coming weekend.
The swimming championships take place for all classifications 3A and higher, with the Colts looking primed to take charge of a significantly altered 5A classification. Cottonwood is particularly looking good on the girls side, according to Skyline coach Joe Pereira, who coached his Eagles to 4A championship on both the boys and girls sides the last two seasons.
"Cottonwood is a pretty big favorite in the girls competition," Pereira said. "They held a lot of kids out in region, but they'll all be there for state, I assume, and yeah, it's a really strong team."
Pereira's team should be near the top again, along with top programs like Olympus and Corner Canyon, but all teams involved will be hardpressed to defeat an up-and-coming Cottonwood program.
"They've just started putting things together much, much better," Pereira observed. "It's a deep team, and yeah, they look like a team that's going to be a really good program."
On the boys side Brighton looks to be the favorite going in, after dominating the Region 7 championships, with Cottonwood playing second fiddle. Don't be surprised if those places hold in the state championship, with Skyline and Olympus again looking to place high. Springville also looks to have a competitive team and could make some noise as well after dominating the boys competition in Region 8.
"Brighton is the clear favorite, although not as big of a favorite as Cottonwood for the girls competition," Pereira said. "Brighton really looked good in region and it's a really deep team."
The Lone Peak boys team looked dominant during Region 4 competition and Knights' coach Celeste Tiffany is confident her team can show the same against the rest of the state.
"All year we've had state championships in mind, every time we put in our lineups for every competition we've been in," Tiffany said. "Our men's team is very strong and we have a lot of state champions returning, and they're all strong and experienced swimmers."
Primary contenders on the boys side include Pleasant Grove, Region 3 champion Riverton and Region 1 champion Davis.
On the girls side, Lone Peak is right there, although American Fork will go in as the favorite after nudging out the Knights in the Region 4 championships.
"We have some good and experienced swimmers on our girls as well," Tiffany said. "American Fork is really strong, so we'll need to be at our best if we hope to take the girls championship. But I really like how my girls have improved throughout the year and we're going in as a strong second with a real chance to be champions."
For years Park City has overwhelmed its competition in the pool, but that could change after the Miners were bumped to 4A classification. Joining Park City in 4A are standout programs Sky View, which won the 5A championship last season, Desert Hills, Juan Diego and Mountain Crest, among others.
"It's exciting, and we're looking very much forward to the competition," said Park City coach Mike Werner. "We welcome all the competition and we got a taste of what it's going to be like in our region championships, which were really fun and really competitive."
The Miners did look like their dominating selves during the girls portion of those region championships, outscoring second-place Tooele by more than 200 team points. It was a different story in the boys competition, however, with the Miners only getting past Juan Diego by 29 points.
"It's going to be a lot of fun with all the unknowns going in," Werner said. "You have all those great programs in the Logan area, then all those St. George schools, which we don't know a lot about, and then some other great programs in Utah County."
Competition for all classifications start Thursday and continue through Saturday. The 3A competition will be held at the Wasatch Aquatic Center while all other classifications will compete at the South Davis Recreation Center.