Olympus Aquatics feeds success of local high schoolsMar 29, 2022 09:32PM ● By Daniel Olsen
The Olympus High boys and girls teams came away with repeat state championships, many of those swimmers came through the Olympus Aquatics program. (Photos courtesy Tom Thorum)
By Daniel Olsen | [email protected]
After Olympus and Skyline took first and second respectively in the 5A UHSAA state championships, it’s apparent that both programs are aided by the success of Olympus Aquatics. It is a feeder program that prepares swimmers to excel not only in high school, but USA swimming competitions and possibly more.
“I’ve been coaching at Olympus since 2013,” Olympus coach Tom Thorum said. “I’ve also coached the Olympus Aquatics program since 2013. I got my degree in architecture. My dad was a coach at East High. He was a really good coach.”
While Skyline and Olympus have a longstanding rivalry in all athletic competitions, Thorum doesn’t let that distract from his main goal.
“I just look at the group of kids that we have each year and try to serve everyone the best I can,” Thorum said. “I don’t get caught up too much in the rivalry.”
While this isn’t the first time that the Titans have tasted success in the state championships, it was still a memorable year in many aspects.
“One thing that really stands out is the Olympus girls were the underdogs going into it,” Thorum said. “The Skyline girls beat us at region and the dual meet. Our girls ended up winning all the relays which was quite a feat. That’s something I’ll always remember. Our boys swam an All-Classification record in every relay. We had several All-Americans. Evan (VanBrocklin) broke the freestyle record that was set 20 years ago.”
Skyline and Olympus have both built longstanding reputations as elite programs. There are many reasons that the Granite School District has so many successful swimmers.
“The Granite School District is one of the few districts that builds swimming pools in their high schools,” Thorum said. “Our feeder program, Olympus Aquatics, has been producing a lot of talented kids in the last five to six years. They ultimately swim for Skyline or Olympus. This sport comes down to technical skill. Kids with good technique have good results. That’s why I think the schools are doing well right now.”
Just reading about the success of these teams doesn’t do them justice. Watching them in the pool is a whole other story.
“If you have some time to kill, it’s worth watching the 5A livestream and video of the last relay,” Thorum said. “If I sit here, I feel like I’m boasting to tell you how great this class was. This is one of the most dominant men’s teams in Utah high school history. The kids deserve the recognition. Drop in on other swim events and see it. All is made possible by the Granite School District and UHSAA. They have made sure that these events happen every year especially during COVID. Our kids still achieved unparalleled success during this time.”
Olympus High School set an unprecedented amount of state records. Evan VanBrocklin set three individual records (200 yard individual medley, 50 yard freestyle, 100 yard butterfly). His 50 yard freestyle time of 20.53 seconds is a state record among all classifications. His 45.13 second time in the 100 yard freestyle last season is also a state record among all classifications.
VanBrocklin also was a member of two relay teams that set state records among all classifications (200 yard freestyle relay, 400 yard freestyle relay). He finished as the swimmer of the year in 5A. He will be swimming at the University of Utah in college. There will be plenty of talent that Olympus will need to replace next year as many of their top swimmers are graduating. Jack Saber, Alexander Turney, Bridger Sink and Ethan Astle are just a few of the many key contributors on the team this year.
Lukas Keele was one of the key contributors on the Skyline boys team. He and teammate Nikolas Skamnes finished in the top 10 rankings in the 200 individual medley for 5A. Jade Garstang of Skyline was the female swimmer of the year in 5A.
Deni Cullom is the first-year head coach for Skyline Eagles. Finishing as the runner-ups in both the boys and girls 5A championships shouldn’t be taken lightly. They will be contenders for years to come.
According to a press release from Skyline High School, “Deni was the 2010 Open Water National Champion and a three-time 18 & Under Open Water National Champion. He earned a Bronze Medal at Lac San Jean Open Water World Cup and was on the USA National Team 2008-10. He also holds multiple local pool and open water records.”
Cullom worked as an assistant swim coach at Mission Viejo Nadadores in Southern California. Most recently, he was an assistant coach at Olympus High School and an age group coach at Olympus Aquatics coaching all ages from 7-18 years old. He developed season, weekly, and daily plans and supervised USA Swimming coaches, recreational coaches and all 14 and under age groups within the team.”
The Olympus girls team defeated Skyline by a final score of 287 to 218. While it was closer in the girls swimming championships, the Olympus boys team doubled the score of every team not named Skyline. The Titans defeated the Eagles by a final score of 427.5 to 301. The next closest school was Brighton with 180 points.
Since swimming is a year-round sport, there are several more events going on that require more persistence from the athletes even after the high school season is done.
“The Olympus Aquatics team had a state championship the following weekend,” Thorum said. “There are schools all over the valley that have kids who swim for our team. At the USA Swimming championship, kids got to swim on the same team. We made one big super team. They take a few weeks off between seasons, but they swim year round. Next, they are going to Texas for the sectionals meet.”