Brophy Prep swims into 2014 with new pool & national COY

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                </div>  Brophy College Preparatory is a relatively small high school by Division I standards.  Its enrollment of about 1,200 makes it just half the size of many of the other […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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Brophy College Preparatory is a relatively small high school by Division I standards.  Its enrollment of about 1,200 makes it just half the size of many of the other schools on its schedule.

But the all-boys Jesuit-run school in central Phoenix now lays claim to the top swimming coach in the nation, and will soon open a new Aquatic Center that will rival those of other prep programs around the country.

The Broncos have earned the accolades and the new facility.  For more than a quarter century they have dominated high-school swimming in the state of Arizona.  Their 2013 state championship was their 26th in a row. They have a total of 36 state titles in the history of the program, dating back into the ’50s – and six more runner-up finishes.

And the last eight title wins have all been under the direction of head coach Pat O’Neil who was just named the National Swim Coach of the Year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.  During that time, the program’s only loss was due to a forfeit as the Broncos have piled up a total of 54 dual-meet victories and have also brought home titles from 32 invitationals.

Brophy has been the dominant boys’ swimming team year in and year out, fielding particularly strong teams in recent years as the better swimmers in the state naturally gravitate to the best program.  In 2010 the Broncos doubled the score of runner-up Red Mountain High School in winning their 23rd straight title, and then two years later almost doubled the numbers again that runner-up Highland High was able to compile.

Chaparral High School put up a good challenge for the 2013 title.  During the regular season, the Firebirds finished runner-up to the Broncos at the Brophy Xavier Invitational, and then again in a dual meet.  But in that second meeting, Chaparral, behind its national record-setting freshman Ryan Hoffer, finished just 11 points off the winning pace and appeared poised to challenge the decades-long Brophy reign at the state finals.

However, Brophy scored 294 points in winning their 26th straight, while Chaparral came in second with 259.  But the fact that Brophy was able to withstand the challenge this year no doubt reinforced O’Neil’s selection as Coach of the Year.

O’Neil, who was the coach at rival Mountain View High School (Mesa) for nine years before moving over to Brophy, has a program heavy with club swimmers, and that also presents challenges.  He has to juggle schedules and constantly coordinate with coaches from eight or nine club programs each season – while also making sure to continually stay ahead of the other high-school coaches at 162 programs around the state.

And, despite the depth of his talent, each state tournament presents its own kind of challenge because each year O’Neil is working with a team that includes half of its swimmers competing in a state tournament for the first time.

His new Olympic-sized pool will be ready in August, in time for the new school year, and will provide new training advantages over years past when the team had to travel off-site to the Phoenix Swim Club.  It took two days to fill the new pool with 808,000 gallons of water and now it’s down to finishing work on the locker room areas and offices for teachers and coaches that will make up the Aquatic Center.

Of course, that’s just what the best swim team in the state needs… another advantage.