It may not be a state championship, but last season Desert Vista pushed perennial champion Phoenix Brophy harder in the boys state 5A-I swim meet than any school in history.
The Thunder are the only team to score 302 points in a boys state championship and not win the championship.
Brophy has dominated the swim scene for the past 49 years with 29 state titles, including the last 10.
That doesn’t keep Thunder swimmers like Chris Berghold and Ryan Dignan from thinking they can close out their high school careers with an even high point total.
“We lost a couple of guys going into this year,” Berghold said, “and because we were short-handed we all had to step it up and through the year we’ve gotten better.”
Berghold’s specialties are the 100 butterfly and backstroke.
“I’ve done this for three years now and I know where I want to be time-wise,” he said. “They’ve been my events since eighth grade and they’re where I fit into the team to score some points and try to get better.”
He also swims on the 200-yard medley relay team with Mark Young, Clayton Lanham and Tyler Brouse, as well as the 400 freestyle relay.
While Berghold sprints, Dignan has been the distance swimmer in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events.
“The 500 can be rough because it usually comes at the end of the day when everyone is tired and have been out in the sun,” Dignan explained. “But you get motivated.”
He has also been experimenting with spring events this season.
“I’m getting better,” he said. “Last year I was OK. I don’t know if I actually learned (to sprint) but my tempo is faster, I have a bigger kick and I’m engaging my muscles more.”
Desert Vista’s boys team has finished second the last two seasons, breaking a two-year run by Mesa Mountain View.
“We’ve done good the last couple of years,” Dignan added. “We’ve won three regional championships, four city championships and had two undefeated seasons. That has boosted our confidence and everyone wants to be part of this team.”