COLORADO SPRINGS – Luke Robert, Jerry Hills and Prakhar Singal are founding members of the Discovery Canyon Campus boys swimming team. Through their efforts, the Thunder has risen to a top program in the state.
The trio is the last three remaining members of the inaugural Thunder team from 2010.
“To watch these guys grow into young men is a pleasure,” said Discovery Canyon swimming coach Terre Christensen. “They’ve helped build this team. Other swimmers look up to them.”
The three captains joined the squad under different circumstances. Robert (pronounced Row-Bear) arrived in Colorado Springs when his father, Dennis, was transferred to NORAD.
Dennis Robert is a member of the Canadian Royal Air Force.
“I planned on concentrating on basketball in high school,” said Luke Robert, whose 6-foot-6 frame makes him one of the tallest swimmers in the state. “But I gave that up after a couple of years, grew gills and started swimming.”
Robert appears to have made the right choice. He is a three-time state qualifier in the 50 and 100 freestyle, as well as a key member of the relay teams.
At last year’s Class 4A state meet, he finished second in the 50 free and 4th in the 100 free. Interestingly, Robert never swam club until last summer, choosing instead to focus mainly on his academics. He will attend McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where he will study microbiology and biology. He hopes to become a cardiologist.
“Luke is not afraid to set high goals,” Christensen said. “He takes a disappointment or a failure and turns it into a positive.”
Singal is also a three-time state qualifier. He specializes in the 100 fly and 100 breast, as well as relays. He and Robert were members of last year’s 200 free and 400 relay teams that each finished fourth at the state meet.
“We lift each other up,” said Singal, who is a member of the Falfins club team. “We’re always encouraging each other.”
Singal also desires to work on the medical field. He was recently accepted to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where he plans to study cellular biology. He hopes to someday work as a pathologist.
“Prakhar has a very strong work ethic and he’s been a good leader for this program for four years,” Christensen said.
Hills is a two-time state qualifier who specializes in the 200 free and 500 free. But he almost never went out for the team as a freshman.
“I told his mom we will need every warm body we have to start this program,” Christensen recalls.
“Jerry didn’t have a lot of confidence back then. I took him to the state meet as a freshman and he stood next to me. He said ‘I’m going to make state next year.’ He did. He’s really turned into a swimmer. He’s one of the most versatile swimmers I have.”
Hills will attend the Coast Guard Academy next fall, where he plans to study electrical engineering and swim. For now, however, he is helping the Thunder achieve greater things.
“I love this team,” he said. “We’re all brothers and family.” Discovery Canyon finished eighth at state in 2012. The Thunder was ninth in 2011.
“A top five finish is always the goal,” Robert said. “Maybe this is the year?
“I would like to finish higher individually. If I do that will help bring everybody up and the team will do well.”
Singal has enjoyed the journey and knows the mission is not yet completed. “Our coach always reminds us that if we each take one bite of the elephant as a team we can do great things.”
The Thunder is off to a great start this season. It defeated Cheyenne Mountain for the first time ever on March 20 (104-81).
“When we won we were pretty fired up,” Hills said. “It was nice to finally beat them after all those years swimming against them at invites and walking away saying ‘They beat us again.’ Every day is a great day to beat Cheyenne Mountain.”
The Thunder lost a close dual meet against 5A Coronado on March 13 (94-91).
“We were beat down at practice,” Singal said. “It was our first big dual meet of the season as a team. The idea that we could beat a good team wasn’t fully developed.”
The Thunder uses Liberty as its home pool this season.