Cole Harris and Davied Sanchez are an anomaly when it comes to A.L. Brown swimming, and it's not just because of their success at last year's 3A state championship meet.
As members of the SwimMac program, Harris and Sanchez are the Wonders' only year-round swimmers. A couple of year-round commitments each year is usually the going rate at Brown, and the junior and sophomore, respectively, are certainly proving their worth.
With top 12 finishes in their individual events at last year's state meet, and their medley relay team placing in the top 10, Harris and Sanchez might be on their way to becoming the Wonders' two most decorated swimmers of all time.
They have been teammates dating back to their elementary school years. Harris says he started to swim competitively with the Northwest summer swim club when he was 5 or 6 years old.
One year Harris' junior, Sanchez joined the program a couple years later. About a year after that, Harris joined SwimMac and Sanchez followed closely behind. They still participate in both.
Sanchez' progress in USA Swimming hit a milestone last summer when he won the 100-yard backstroke in the 13-14 year old division at the state meet. He represented North Carolina in the Southeast section meet in Atlanta and placed fourth.
Starting with Harris, Kannapolis coach Lauren Smith says there were people that told her of Harris' and Sanchez' impending arrivals.
Harris made an immediate impression as a freshman, though he would like to forget about the regional meet that year. He participated in the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard individual medley but failed to advance to the state meet.
"I got psyched out," said Harris. "I felt a lot of pressure from the meet, personal pressure."
Sanchez joined the Wonders the following year. He and Harris stood out individually while also becoming the core of a formidable relay team.
Regionals was a pleasant experience for Harris the second time around. He qualified in the same events as his freshman year but shook the butterflies in his sophomore appearance.
"I think he was so unhappy with his performance at regionals as a freshman," said Smith. "He really stepped up his performance so he could go to states. He beat his times by a couple seconds. For a kid like him, he's usually working on (improving by) tenths of a second or half a second. But he really came to swim at that meet."
Sanchez also had a regional meet to remember, placing second in the backstroke. He surprised even himself when he finished fourth at the state meet.
Along with Jackson Boone (breaststroke) and Corey Klepper (butterfly), Harris (freestyle) and Sanchez (backstroke) helped the Wonders to a tenth-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay at the state championships.
With Klepper graduated, Harris' and Sanchez' roles have changed on the relay team. Newcomer Alex Fesperman's best event is the freestyle, so Sanchez switched to the butterfly and Harris filled the void at backstroke.
Harris and Sanchez have a great appreciation for all of their A.L Brown teammates and for having each other.
"Cole has been a pretty good friend since I was little," said Sanchez. "We are on the same summer league team. We have swum (year-round) together. We've always been around the same group and the same building. It's not really competitive, but it's just nice to have a friend around."
The 3A Western regional meet will be held Feb. 5 at the Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatic Center. The state meet will take place a week later at Cary's Triangle Aquatic Center.