There doesn't seem to be a clear line between the end of last season and the start of this season for members of the Upper Arlington High School boys swimming and diving team.

There doesn't seem to be a clear line between the end of last season and the start of this season for members of the Upper Arlington High School boys swimming and diving team.

Having competed in club swimming, water polo and preseason training, the Golden Bears rarely left the water during the offseason.

"Our guys don't take a lot of time off," said second-year coach Mike de Bear, whose team opens Saturday, Dec. 3, at Gates Mills Hawken with Hunting Valley University before competing in the Solon Relays later that day. "It's a nonstop cycle of getting better."

UA is hoping to see that work pay off by season's end. Last season, for the third time since 2006, the Bears placed third in the Division I state meet at the Branin Natatorium in Canton, scoring 150 points to finish behind Cincinnati St. Xavier (312) and Toledo St. Francis (298).

"Last year we had some ups and downs as a team," senior Sean Neri said. "We went through some obstacles with having a new coach and some illnesses at the end of the year, but the team came out stronger as a whole."

UA returns eight of its 10 state qualifiers from a year ago. Senior Andrew Rabe, junior Joey Long, senior Adam Dodson and 2011 graduate Adam Rabe had the team's highest finish at state last season, placing second in the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1 minute, 25.28 seconds.

Long was third in both the 200 free (1:40.61) and 500 free (4:34.44), was third in the 400 free relay with Adam Rabe, Neri and senior Ryan Cutler (3:07.95) and sixth in the 200 medley relay of Neri, Adam Rabe, junior Max Jelen and Andrew Rabe (1:35.61).

Also competing at state were Neri in the 100 backstroke (11th, 53.04) and 200 free (20th, 1:44.93), Jelen in the 100 butterfly (14th, 52.71) and 100 back (20th, 54.66), Cutler in the 500 free (15th, 4:44.7) and 200 free (21st, 1:45.25), junior Ian Reardon in the 200 individual medley (15th, 1:58.96) and sophomore Thomas Trace in the 100 back (17th, 53.66).

Others expected to be key contributors include seniors Ben Mastruserio and Victor Pataky, juniors Geoff Dickhaut, John Leanza and Danny Sullivan and sophomores Ryan Baas and Zach Newcome as well as sophomore Evan Cutler and freshman Colin Holstein in diving.

"Our depth is probably our strength right now," Ryan Cutler said. "We've got a couple of events like the 200 free, the 500 free and the 100 back that we could qualify three or four people on to the state meet."

UA scored 388.5 points in the OCC-Central Division meet last season to finish well ahead of runner-up Thomas Worthington (252) as well as Dublin Coffman (162.5), Worthington Kilbourne (133), Hilliard Darby (123), Hilliard Davidson (98) and Central Crossing (55).

The Bears then won their sectional meet with 414 points, finishing ahead of runner-up St. Charles (280), and captured their first district championship since 2005, scoring 432.5 points at district to finish ahead of runner-up St. Charles (347.5).

"(UA and St. Charles) are going to be the top two teams again just because of the size of our teams and the depth of the talent," de Bear said. "After that, there are quite a few of the OCC teams who are pretty solid. New Albany, Thomas, Coffman and Dublin Jerome have some good swimmers, but I don't think there's another team that has the depth of those two."