On Wednesday afternoon at the Ecker Hill Aquatic Center, the Park City High School swim team continued to show its potential against two of the top 5A teams in the state, Lone Peak and American Fork, after competing in the water in the first time in five days. In the Miners' second meet of the year, the Park City girls (525) came up a sliver short against Lone Peak (530). The Park City boys finished third (447) as American Fork (524) finished second and Lone Peak won (575).
"Anytime you can step up and race with some of the teams in 5A as a small school, I'll take it," said Mike Werner, Park City's head coach. "I think it's something that has taken several years to get into their heads: It doesn't matter how big the schools are. Swimming is a unique sport; it's about individualism.
"They're learning to take advantage of every opportunity."
On the girls' side, Werner said the team is really starting to gel with its combination of freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors pacing the team to a first and second place in the first two meets of the season.
"The girls wanted to race. They weren't timid," he said. "They were having confidence and belief in what they're doing. They're starting to believe as a team. There was amazing 'teamsmanship' yesterday and it just carries over into their racing. It gets them going.
Park City's Natalie McDonald won the 200-yard IM as well as the 500-yard freestyle, while teammate Bailey Burke finished second in both the 100-yard backstroke and the 100-yard butterfly. Along with fellow Miners Grace Peterson and Megan Flake, McDonald and Burke also won the 400-yard freestyle relay. The group of McDonald, Burke, Flake and Lily Tyler finished second in the 200-yard medley relay.
"It was more of a group effort," Werner said.
On the boys' side, Werner said senior Garrett Jensen had "one of the best meets of his life" as he won the 50-yard freestyle, finished second in the 100-yard freestyle and, along with senior mates Zach Carfi, Alec Topkis and Jensen Howard, won the 400-yard freestyle relay. Carfi and Howard also had a number of top-three performances against Lone Peak and American Fork Wednesday.
"The guys showed up and went to town," Werner said.
This week, there will be no long layoff for the Miners.
Park City hosts the annual Park City Invitational today at the Ecker Hill Aquatic Center as Bingham, Brighton and Riverton travel to town to compete against the Miners. After that, Park City heads to Skyline High School in Salt Lake City on Tuesday to face the defending 4A champion Eagles in their pool.
"I'm a glutton for punishment you could say, but these kids really do like being able to race the best kids and they buy into it. It's great preparation," Werner said. "We want to swim and improve and do the best we possibly can."