Something changes when Laramie High seniors Christopher Bury and Connor Fontana walk into the expansive pool on the west side of the school.
It doesn’t matter if it’s early morning or late afternoon, Bury and Fontana are there to train one way — as hard and long as they can for both sessions each day.
That all-out effort in practice tends to trickle down to the rest of the Plainsmen so they can pour in on during the meets.
Bury not only does his work on the diving board, but makes an effort to be the best swimmer he can as well, primarily in the 100-yard backstroke.
“Christopher is just an outstanding person and a leader by example,” LHS coach Tom Hudson said. “The divers get a couple of mornings off every week, but he comes and trains with the swimmers those days. He also swam with the Laramie Swim Club all summer. So you will see his name on the swimming side of things a lot more — and not just the backstroke and be a lot more versatile for us. He will also contend for a state title in diving for sure.”
Bury, who has a gymnastics background, qualified for the state meet as a freshman diver and placed 11th with 291.30 points. He then jumped to fifth place with 342.85 points as a sophomore. Last season, he was third with 407.40 points.
“I wasn’t awesome in my freshman year, but I ended up qualifying for state and I thought it was super cool and wanted to keep doing it,” Bury said. “When I got better in my sophomore year, I knew I could really get into it and be pretty good. Then it was a great season for me last year. I loved spending time with the team and getting third was awesome.”
Bury dabbled with swimming the backstroke throughout and steadily improved to qualify in the event the past two seasons. He was seventh in the event in 57.72 seconds at the state meet.
“That was better than I could’ve hoped for,” Bury said. “So I have been training in swimming as well as diving year round and trying to get better. I figured it’s my senior year I would try to train as much as possible.”
Outside of his main training for diving, Bury practices with the swimmers on Wednesday and Friday mornings and does warm-ups with them from 3:30-4 p.m. in the afternoons before diving practices.
“I try to get in as much swimming as possible and have been doing freestyle and the breaststroke a little bit — but backstroke is still my favorite.”
Fontana is a freestyle specialist, who has also qualified for state since he was a freshman.
“Connor has been around the sport for a long time and developed so much over the years,” Hudson said. “He became a real leader by example, especially in practice — he just grinds it out and doesn’t know how to swim slow. He is trying the hardest he can. I look for him to be very strong in any freestyle event I put him in from the 50 to the 500.”
Fontana had a breakout state meet last season. He was a member of the winning 400-freestyle relay team that clinched the team title and set a new state record in 3:10.49. He was also fourth in the 200 freestyle in 1:48.69 and seventh in the 500 freestyle in 5:11.58.
“The fact that I was on a state-record relay really blew my mind,” Fontana said. “I couldn’t believe it at first, and then we saw the time and couldn’t believe we broke the record.”
Although he excels in all freestyle events from the quick 50 to the long-distance 500, his favorite is the second shortest.
“The 100 free is my favorite — it’s a sprint event and intense the whole way through,” Fontana said. “When you win it, you are amazed.”
David Watson is a writer for WyoSports. He can be reached at email@example.com or 307-755-3327. Follow him on Twitter at @dwatsonsports.