SHERIDAN — Sheridan High School sophomore swimmer Issac Otto puts his headphones on and goes to the playlist made for swimming and running. Songs on the list are loud and help him get his head in the right mindset.

Shosten also listens to music but he does not have a set playlist. He listens to any song on his phone with a fast beat and pumps him up. Shosten said he talks with some teammates, easing his nerves a bit.

Senior Thomas Yates finds his own area and thinks about his race. He picks out one other competitor in his race and visualizes beating them. He has created friendships with other competitors in the state and knows what swimmers he needs to focus on. For finals, Yates singles out the fastest swimmer in the event. He chooses a swimmer he knows pushed him to swim fast and best prepared him mentally.

Yates started using this technique after his sophomore season when he did not perform as well as he wanted to at state. He found that it is easier to race only one person instead of the entire heat of swimmers.

The Broncs will compile all these focusing tactics as they start the state competition 3:30 p.m. today at Laramie High School, with a weekend of swimming and diving ahead of them.

Before the swimmers take the starting blocks, teams settle in and prepare for a long day of competition. At most meets, swimmers from different teams will socialize, catching up with friends from around the state.

Yates said most swim meets are laid back but the state competition is different. There is no socializing; everyone is preparing for their events.

“Everyone is a competitor instead of a friend,” Yates said.

Shosten said the first day of state is tense because everyone is thinking about qualifying for finals on Saturday.

“If you do not swim fast on the first day, you do not swim on the second day,” Shosten said.

While waiting for their events, swimmers visualize what they need to do to be successful. The Broncs remember their training, remember hours spent perfecting their strokes and turns to shave time off events.

When their event comes around, swimmers approach the starting block and all noise drowns out — partially because of the swimmers focus, partly from their caps.

Once they dive into the water, sound cuts off completely.

Coaches stay in communication with their swimmers from the pool deck.

While taking a breath, Otto will glance over at head coach Brent Moore to check his pace.

Shosten said coaches use hand motions to tell swimmers if they need to pick up the pace or hold steady.

Yates said he notices only Moore when swimming.

Every coach is on the pool deck, trying to communicate with their swimmers. No matter what, Sheridan’s swimmers can always find Moore and the other Sheridan coaches on the deck.

“I just find them somehow,” Shosten said.

Finals start 10 a.m. Saturday.