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A closer look at 2021 high school swimming championships

It was a year of firsts during the high school swimming season

Swimmers race in the 500-yard freestyle at the 5A boys swimming state meet at the Wasatch Aquatic Center in Heber City on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
Swimmers race in the 500-yard freestyle at the 5A boys swimming state meet at the Wasatch Aquatic Center in Heber City on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.
Annie Barker, Deseret News

It was a year of firsts during the high school swimming season, with three of the combined eight boys and girls state championships going to programs that had never won titles before.

On the boys side, American Fork (6A) and Snow Canyon (4A) won titles for the first time in school history, while Olympus (5A) did the same on the girls side.

The other boys state champs were Olympus (5A) and Judge Memorial (3A), while on the girls side the state champs were Lone Peak (6A), Sky View (4A) and Carbon (3A).

Here’s a closer look at the eight state meets.


6A boys

In a very tight competition, in which seven teams all scored more than 150 points, it was American Fork that prevailed in the end racking up 216 team points for its first boys state title in school history.

Westlake was second with 203 points.

Depth was the key for American Fork, which had one individual victory as Caleb Wynn finished first in the 200 individual medley.

“For so long the boys have stood by and watched the girls get the glory,” said American Fork coach Kathy King. “They had been supportive and had no animosity whatsoever, but now the girls get to provide them that same support. I stress that we’re a family and we live like that.”

Individually, the top swimmer was Bingham’s Tanner Nelson who won the 200 and 500 freestyles with new overall state records in each.

Nelson’s time of 1:38.39 in the 200 free and 4:30.06 in the 500 free are the best swims in state history, and will give future distance swimmers a new target to shoot for.


6A girls

Lone Peak’s youthful swimming squad, which featured six freshman at the state meet, captured the school’s first state championship since 2005 with a very narrow win over rival American Fork.

The Knights tallied 319 points for first place, just four ahead of American Fork.

“All year long we tried to focus on opportunities and what we were grateful for,” said Lone Peak coach Celeste Tiffany. “We chose to focus on a ‘can do’ mentality and the girls really took that mentality on and rose to the occasion.”

The catalyst for Lone Peak’s state title were the relays, as it won the 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay, and finished second in the 400 freestyle relay. That second-place finish in the 400 clinched the title.

Three of Lone Peak’s swimmers in that final relay were freshman, a win that denied American Fork a fourth straight title.

The lone double winner at state was Skyridge junior Katelyn Andrist, who won both the 200 and 500 freestyles. She set new 6A records in both events in the preliminaries, with times of 1:56.27 and 5:04.47, respectively.


5A boys

A year after winning its first title in school history, Olympus backed it up with an even more dominant title in 2021.

The Titans rolled with 354 team points, followed by region foe Brighton in second with 229 points.

Olympus won seven of 11 races and had 13 swimmers finish in the top eight of the eight individual events, in addition to junior Alexander Turney setting a new overall state 100 breaststroke record.

“I’m thrilled, I really am. I’m grateful to be a part of the program, the school that I’m a part of. The faculty and staff I work with and these kids are just special,” said Olympus coach Tom Thorum, who took over the program in 2014.

There were three double winners at the state meet, with Olympus’ Evan VanBrocklin winning the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley, Brighton’s Daniel Detjen winning the 200 and 500 freestyle and Cottonwood’s Jacob Ricci winning the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle.

The highlight of the night was the 100 breaststroke.

Not only did Turney set a new overall state record with a blistering time of 55.60, but teammate Jack Saber’s swim of 56.27 is the second-best in state history and Wasatch’s Jayden Hicken’s time of 56.39 is the fourth-best ever.


5A girls

Olympus’ girls navigated the challenges of COVID-19 to capture its first state championship in school history in dominant fashion as it tallied 314 points, with Park City in second with 205 points.

“It’s been a really hard year with COVID and everything, and we just trained through all of it. We were in the pool as much as we could. We really owe it to our coach because he just kept pushing us, and all the other girls, we just kept pushing each other to get faster,” said Olympus’ Colleen MacWilliams, who was a double winner in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle.

Olympus’ other individual winner was Madeleine Moran in the 100 breaststroke, while it won two of three relays.

“The culture those girls have is one of the best cultures I’ve seen on a swim team. They support one another, they motivate one another. An awesome group of special women,” said Olympus coach Tom Thorum.

Runner-up Park City had two individual winners, Helena Djunic in the 100 freestyle and Sara Wall in the 50 freestyle, while Bountiful senior Elliott Howe won the 100 backstroke for the second straight year.


4A boys

Snow Canyon capped a dominant swimming season with its first state championship in school history as it racked up 352 team points. Sky View finished second with 261 points.

The Warriors were the favorite coming in and didn’t disappoint.

““I told my kids two things, attitude and effort. If you have a good attitude and put your best effort forward you can do whatever you want to do. The whole year despite everything, the attitude and focus is we do our best, we try our hardest, we support each other. That’s exactly what happened this year,” said Snow Canyon coach Charlie Bennett.

Snow Canyon won all three relays, with Max Barnett leading the way individually by winning the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle.

Teammate Grant Gibbs won two events as well, the 100 and 200 freestyle.

Canyon View’s Max Cannon was a double winner as well, winning both the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke. His time of 56.68 in the breaststroke was a new 4A record.


4A girls

A state runner-up a year ago, Sky View’s superior depth pushed it to a 4A state championship in 2021.

Sky View tallied 332 points to easily distance itself from region rival Ridgeline, which finished second with 262 points.

“You look at some of the relays, and we didn’t finish first in any of the relays, but that’s not always what it’s determined by. We had a team that showed up and worked together and that’s the biggest difference. We had so many girls working together toward the single goal of finishing first,” said Sky View coach Marcus Singleton.

The events where Sky View collected the most points was in the 200 and 500 freestyles, placing three swimmers in the top six in each event.

Sky View’s lone individual winner as Jenna Gibbons in the 100 breaststroke.

There were two multi-event winners at the 4A meet, with Desert Hills’ Caitlin Romprey winning the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke, and then Snow Canyon’s Kylie Barber winning the 50 and 100 freestyle.


3A boys

Judge ended a 16-year state title drought with a strong performance from a squad that had freshman, sophomore, junior and senior contributors.

Judge ended the meet with 314 team points, followed by last year’s champ Union in second with 257 points. Judge lost to Union by one point last season.

“For the last six years our team has been on the build, it’s been definitely been a long game to get here,” said coach Sage Maaranen. “Our team has always been more about team and the process over individual results, and as such we’ve built this amazing team culture that kids at the school want to be a part of and our team has just grown year after year as a result of that.”

Judge’s last state titles came from a three-peat back in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Junior Buddy Yanelli won the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke, while sophomore Nico Morton was also a double winner in the 200 and 500 freestyle.

Richfield standout sophomore Grant Kling also won two events, the 50 and 100 freestyle.


3A girls

A strong balance of upperclassmen and underclassmen led Carbon to a third straight state championship in 2021.

Carbon tallied 258 team points to finish first ahead of runner-up Judge’s 228 points.

“They wanted it, and they tried hard and they earned every bit of it,” said Carbon coach Allie Chamberlain.

Carbon’s only two first-place finishes came in relays, the 200 medley relay and the 200 freestyle relay.

Depth was key in numerous other events though, as it placed three swimmers in the top eight in the 50 free, and then two each in the 100 breaststroke and 100 freestyle.

There were two multi-event winners at the 3A state meet, Grantsville’s Hadley Begay (100 butterfly and 500 freestyle) and Emery’s Haley Guymon (100 and 200 freestyle).