As a freshman, Bradley Fick was optimistic and before the end of the season he qualified for the 3A state swim championships.
Now, as a sophomore, Fick expects to blow away his previous fastest times in his favorite events, the 500- and 200-yard freestyles.
“Those are my main events. I have a lot of confidence,” Fick said. “I feel really good. I’m expecting a pretty big leap.”
The same could be true for the Broncs boys swim team overall. A team that was so short-handed a few years ago it could barely fill out a couple of relay teams, this year Cody has 17 swimmers on the roster and more depth than at any time in recent years, according to coach Jason Koperski.
It might be daring to suggest the Broncs will make a big splash, but younger swimmers are complementing veterans to account for what should be certain improvement.
Fick is only part of that deal. Diver Porter Laing, a returning state qualifier, newcomer Joseph Killpack, and returners Anbo Yao, TC Hansen, Max Peters and others who were new last year and now have experience, provide a foundation for optimism.
Peters, who likes the backstroke best, found it easy to recall when Koperski was offering reward incentives for swimmers to recruit their friends. When he first learned this squad has 17 members, he was excited.
“I was super surprised,” Peters said. “It takes some of the burden off the seniors.”
One goal for him this winter is to get faster in the 100-yard backstroke. His best hovers around 1:15.
“I still like the backstroke,” Peters said. “I’d like to break (his personal record).”
Laing took up diving only a couple of seasons ago and discovered a latent talent. This year he wants to swim a little bit more than he has recently so he can have more fun mingling with his teammates during workouts.
“It’s kind of lonely when you’re by yourself,” Laing said of diving practice.
He never gave up swimming, periodically entering solo sprints and helping out on the relay. This year he has the distinctive goal of qualifying for state not only in diving, but in the 50-yard freestyle. That could make him the only Wyoming swimmer to reach the championships in different ways.
“I was pretty close last year,” Laing said.
He spent his summer working on a farm and that built upper body strength in a nontraditional manner, not just from long mileage in the pool. He dug irrigation ditches and lifted hay bales and hopes that has given him more power.
Laing is another veteran pleased to see more younger teammates come out for the team.
“That’s pretty cool,” he said of the numbers. “I hope from now on they’ll stay with it.”
Junior Ethan Hope, who was drafted by Koperski to show off the style of military pushups (just a little bit harder to do than ordinary ones) on the first day of practice at the Rec Center, said it’s encouraging to see more guys competing.
“It’s definitely a lot more crowded,” Hope said of the practice lanes. “We were probably one of the smallest teams in Wyoming.”
The swimmers open the season Friday, Dec. 13, against Worland and Powell in Powell, then host the Cody Invitational at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14.
“I’m glad that it’s here,” Fick said of the season’s start.
Koperski will have more flexibility in terms of manning relay squads within meets and shifting around athletes from event to event to see what they can accomplish in different strokes. He called Killpack a newcomer of great promise.
At practice, he stood next to the school record board displaying all of Cody’s girls and boys fastest times in all yards and meters events. Killpack particularly eyed the 100-yard butterfly record.
“I’d like to get the record,” Killpack said. If not during his first season with the Broncs, then eventually. But he also has a more immediate goal for this season, a rarity, but something accomplished by a few of the Fillies during the fall girls season. “To qualify in six events,” he said.
That would definitely be scoring big for a freshman.