Last year, the Summit High School 200-yard freestyle relay team missed competing at the state meet by half a second.
This year, three of the four swimmers return to the girls' swim and dive team. The fourth, Riley Bruin, was lost to a move to Michigan, dealing a blow to the 40-strong squad.
Head coach Jenny Wischmeyer is looking to fill one of the incoming swimmers into the vacated spot, starting with November's morning and evening practices and testing the waters at the first meet, the Glenwood Springs invitational on Nov. 30.
"It's quite a year to come off of," she said, adding that it is helpful to have experienced freshmen joining the team this year from some of the county's club teams. She highlighted Maddy O'Mally and Dakota Angell as two with experience swimming.
Co-captain Lisa Evans said she's excited about the influx of underclassmen and looks forward to providing leadership for them.
"I'm excited to see them improve," said fellow senior and star swimmer Olya Aden. Aden recently signed to attend Western State Colorado University in Gunnison on a swimming scholarship.
The team, whose membership is consistent with years past, also has a large group of seniors who have swam throughout high school and will serve as the team's leaders, starting with Evans, Aden and co-captain Hannah McGrew.
"Our team is experienced this year," Wischmeyer said. "Most of the juniors and seniors have been on the team since they were freshmen. That helps things along in terms of leadership, and how practice goes."
Those who have been on the team want to win meets.
"We switched leagues so we don't' know what we're up against, but we have a good feeling," McGrew said.
The star seniors excel in the freestyle events, with Aden focusing her efforts on the 50-, 200- and 500-yard freestyle events. Evans and McGrew are freestyle sprinters.
To fill out the event lineup, the senior leaders have their eyes on a teammate who returned from a foreign-exchange program and excels in the butterfly. A handful of freshmen are interested in taking on the backstroke, too.
Wischmeyer plans to rely on senior Crystal Nichols and junior Reena John in the breaststroke while junior Kitt Maxwell could take the lead in backstroke. Junior Megan Hogfeldt might take on a hefty load of providing depth to the freestyle events, the coach added.
From a coaching perspective, the short season doesn't allow a lot of individual coaching - and particularly doesn't permit the strategy and training needed for distance - so Wischmeyer is hoping to focus primarily on flip turns and sprinting.
"They can become faster more quickly," Wischmeyer said. "We'll focus on starts and turns to focus on that short race."
On the diving end of the spectrum, coach Joe Baldwin wants to see his seven divers simply improve. He plans to push them to push themselves, and though he's not focused on increasing dive difficulty, he wants to see simpler dives look better.
As Wischmeyer focuses on training her swimmers to sprint, McGrew is focusing on helping her teammates believe in themselves.
"We have a lot of power within us, but we need to get our confidence up," she said.