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The City Journals

Titan swimming has foundational year, wins three individual titles

Feb 20, 2017 04:24PM ● By Travis Barton

Junior Bella White (center), winner of the 100-yard butterfly, laughs with her teammate, sophomore Nicole Strong (left), who finished third in the same event at the 4A state swim meet. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]
Four years ago, the Olympus High School swim team had 30 swimmers and was practicing at Granite High School. Now, the 60-member team trains in a brand new aquatic center located across the parking lot from where they go to class.
“Our team’s been building slowly and I think this year, we finally reached the numbers. We’ve always had the skill but now we have the depth,” said senior captain Jake Ference.
It appears to be paying dividends as the Titans swim teams took fourth (boys) and sixth (girls) at the 2017 4A state championships, bettering their seventh-place finish from a year ago.
The state meet saw juniors Bella White and Talmage Corey walk away with individual titles. White topped the podium in the100-yard butterfly while Corey ran the double with 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard individual medley.
Girls 200-yard freestyle relay set a school record with a time of 1:39.02, just missing out on the 4A record by Timpview.
Shortly before the state meet, head coach Tom Thorum and his captains spoke about what this year meant for the program. Thorum said this was a pivotal year that the team came into its own.
“The thing I’ll remember about this (season) is that the team came together and…they laid the first stone in the foundation of a long-term successful program,” Thorum said.
Swimmers’ dedication to the season has played an important role in that foundation, not only creating an essential team chemistry, but also in them taking personal responsibility.
“They’re starting to strive to be successful as a team. To me that’s nice when I don’t feel like I’m the one behind it. They’re the ones that are kind of leading the charge and that’s been great,” Thorum said.
Captains have noticed it as well. “Commitment level has been off the charts,” Ference said, adding that it’s been easy for him and his teammates to be invested in each other’s races.
“Our kids get along great. They’re very inclusive, they’re very kind to one another, very supportive. On the whole they’ve recognized the team’s desire to do better,” Thorum said.
With a philosophy that focuses on the team, eyeing improvement for each swimmer, Thorum said he saw “dramatic improvement” from not only the elite-level swimmers, but also from the developmental level.
“That’s what I like to see is when our third and fourth and fifth swimmers are starting to become competitive, that’s when the team as a whole starts to do well,” Thorum said.
Senior captain Camilla Robbins said the program’s growth over the past few years has been immense, boding well for the future. 
“It’s been pretty insane from where we started, so if we keep growing at this rate and getting better as fast as we are now then this team will be basically unstoppable at some point,” Robbins said.
Ference gave credit to his coach for a season where the team won all its home meets.
“I would honestly say 90 percent of the success comes from having a great coach, so Tommy has been sort of the driving factor that’s made the season really great,” Ference said.
Robbins qualified for state this year in 100-yard butterfly and 500-yard freestyle, having swam and not qualified in different events last season.
“I had new events and went beyond what I thought I could do and that’s because of Tommy and his coaching — it’s been an amazing journey,” Robbins said.
Thorum’s arrival as head coach coincided with Ference’s freshman year. Thorum will now see him graduate having won the region title in 200-yard freestyle, an event started shortly before the region meet.
“It’s sad for me to see him go cause he’s part of what represents the beginning,” Thorum said. “But I think we’ll look back on these years and realize when the team kind of formed and created the culture of success I think we’re gonna have here in the future.”
These formative years were marked by that beginning, and with talented younger age groups about to come through Olympus High, Ference expects big things.
“I imagine, and I’m pretty certain about this, that in say two, three years, Olympus will probably be one of the dominant teams or most dominant team…I imagine there will be state titles in the next few years,” Ference said.