Prep swimming: May, Francis out to push Alta toward team success

Prep swimming • Hawks finished third in the team standings at the state meet last season.
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Sandy • Alta seniors Brianna Francis and Alicia May are as decorated a swimming tandem as the school ever has seen.

They own the school record in seven of the eight individual events between them, and both are on the three school-record relays teams. Then there's Francis' state championships and state records.

But for all the individual accomplishments, all those record-setting performances have yet to yield the sport's ultimate goal of a state team title.

Alta's third-place finish at state a season ago followed back-to-back runner-up finishes. So close, yet so far.

Is this the year the Hawks rise to the top of the podium, or will they again tread water near the top?

"I think we have gotten a ton better than last year," Francis said. "Our freshmen and sophomores have all been dropping time at every meet. And I still think we can be a lot faster."

It's hard to find many in the pool faster than the senior captains. Alta coach Patrick Thurman said that though they have different approaches, May and Francis share one big characteristic — the drive to be the best.

"The competitiveness the two of them have is amazing," said Thurman, who is in his seventh year at the school. "I joke with others that I don't ever want to race them against each other because I don't know how the person who didn't win would handle it. They are so competitive with everything they do."

May, also a captain on the school's soccer team, is the ultimate "team player," constantly rallying her teammates, raising their performances.

Francis, who will swim for the University of Utah next year, puts pressure on herself to live up to the expectations that come with her record-setting performances.

"I have an appreciation for [the records]," Francis said. "It's kind of what I did in the past and it motivates me to keep going. But records are made to be broke, and I tell the girls all the time, 'Hey, go for it. I want to you to break my records and get to that level.'"

The Hawks have competed in some "yardstick" meets this season — against defending Class 5A champion Brighton, Kearns, Bingham and Lone Peak. Though the results weren't there against Brighton, Thurman said the meet was beneficial to his younger swimmers.

"They were a bit intimidated by Brighton," Thurman said. "I would much rather face that now than at region and state. Get on the block and race and see there's nothing overly special about them, other than they swim fast, so let's swim fast against them."