The Utah swimming & diving team ended the season with 10 all-conference honorees.
April 3, 2009
In only his second year as the head coach of the University of Utah swimming and diving team, Greg Winslow has set his teams up for promising futures. The women Utes went 11-2-1 in 2008-2009, setting school and Mountain West Conference records along the way. The Utah men's team finished the year 1-8, improving throughout the season and setting new records as well.
The Utah women's team started the season in spectacular fashion, defeating then #24 Washington in the first meet of the season. The win against the Huskies started a seven-meet win streak where the Utes defeated conference rivals UNLV and San Diego State as well as non-conference opponents Boise State and Denver.
The Utah men's team was unable to get a dual meet victory was in the first half of the season. The Utes had a close meet against Denver, where Utah finished first in four events and in the top two spots in 13 of 16 events.
After spending winter break at La Loma Altitude Training in Mexico, the Utah women finished the regular season against conference opponents TCU, New Mexico, Colorado State, Wyoming, Air Force and BYU. Against TCU, the women ended the meet with the first tie in Utah women's swimming history. In the final six meets, the women went 4-1-1 before the last regular-season meet against BYU.
Utah's men's team returned from its winter break training in Mexico with renewed energy, and had improved performances against SMU and Wyoming. The Utes got their first dual meet win of the season against conference opponent Air Force. The whole team contributed to the win with five swimmers finishing first in eight events.
The Utes welcomed in-state rival BYU with a "Black Out" event. With hundreds of fans dressed in black, the Deseret First Duel meet was everything that one could want, with both the men and women keeping it close until the final events.
Falling behind at the beginning, Utah's women came back and won five events overall. Utah swimmers finished first and second in the 200 free, the 100 breast, and the 200 breast. Behind in the last two events, the Utes had a chance to win the meet, but finished outside of first place in both events by less than a second in each.
Midway through the season, the Utes headed to the Princeton Invitational, where they competed against Florida and Princeton, who both had top-20 finishes at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in 2007-2008. The Utah women finished the meet in second-place behind Florida, led by freshmen Whitney Lopus (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and Hannah Caron (Raleigh, N.C.); who both broke school and MWC records. Lopus broke four individual records throughout the meet in the 100 and 200 fly, as well as the 200 and 500 free. Lopus' time of 1:46.28 in the 200 free, as well as her time of 4:42.47 in the 500 free remains the Utah and MWC records for the events. Caron and Lopus were also part of four record-breaking relay teams during the meet. The women's 400 free relay team of Natalie Edge (South Jordan, Utah), Annie VanLeeuwen (West Valley City, Utah), Lopus and Caron set the current Utah and MWC record with a time of 3:18.71. Edge was named the Most Inspirational Athlete of the meet, the award voted on by the coaches and Edge was the unanimous choice.
The men had their own record-breaking meet at the Princeton Invitational. Adam Oliver (Colorado Springs, Colo.) led the team to a third-place finish with his record-breaking times in the 1000 (9:15.24) and 1650 free (15:17.70). Oliver's times broke records that had been standing for a decade. In addition to Oliver's performance, the Utes saw Michel DeCarolis (Therwil, Switzerland) finish in first in the 100 breast with a time of 55.39. The time was a lifetime-best for DeCarolis. The team overall had an spectacular meet, with over half of both the men's and women's teams earning lifetime best times.
MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Utes had 10 different swimmers named to the All-MWC team. Lopus led the way with her first-place finish in both the 100 and 200 fly events. Lopus' time of 1:55.52 in the 200 fly is now the current MWC record for the event. Caron also was honored for her performance in both events, finishing in a career-best time of 1:58.78 in the 200 fly. She was also honored for her time of 1:59.19 in the 200 IM, which broke the Utah school record in the event. Jennifer Fredsall (Kearns, Utah) also was honored for her performance in the 100 fly.
Shannon McQueen (Ottawa, Ontario) was named to the team twice in both the 100 back and the 500 free. Edge was honored for her performance in the 50, 100 and 200 free events and VanLeeuwen was also honored for her time in the 100 breast.
The Utah divers also received recognition. Kwan Ling Yu (Yuen Long, Hong Kong) finished in first in the platform dive, earning her All-Conference recognition. Anna Braszkiewicz (Warsaw, Poland) was honored twice for her scores in the 1-meter and 3-meter dives.
Utah had four women's relay teams named all-conference team. The 400 and 800 free relay team of Edge, VanLeeuwen, Caron and Lopus was honored for their performances. Utah's 200 free relay team of Edge, VanLeeuwen, Kristina Evans (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Lopus broke the school record in the event with their time of 1:31.91, earning them all-conference recognition. The 400 medley relay team of McQueen, VanLeeuwen, Caron and Lopus also set a new school record with a time of 3:44.51, earning all-conference honors along the way.
The Utah men had three individual swimmers named to the all-conference team. Freshmen Eric Murray (Woodstock, Ga.) and Major Robinson (Missoula, Mont.) were recognized for their performances during the championships. Murray finished second in the 400 IM for the Utes, while Robinson finished in third in the 200 back.
John Baque (Olympia, Wash.) was honored in two events: the 100 and 200 breast. Baque had a career-best time in the 100 breast, finishing with a time of 55.49. He also set a new Utah school record in the 200 breast with a time of 1:59.20.
The Utah men's team also had one of their relay teams named to the all-conference team. The 800 free relay team of Marco Ferraro (Freberdorf, Switzerland), Simon Oberholzer (Schaffhousen, Switzerland), Murray and Oliver set a new school record with a time of 6:35.83, finishing third.
Oliver received the Senior Recognition Award; the award is given to the senior who best exemplified the ideals of the MWC both in and out of the pool.
Three of the Utah women's divers qualified for the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships. Braszkiewicz, Yu and Jessica Schenk (Park City, Utah) qualified for the 1-meter and 3-meter dives, while Yu also qualified for the platform dive and went on to earn ninth-place overall in event.
As Utah's representative at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, Lopus participated in three events: the 500 free, the 100 and the 200 fly. Lopus failed to get out of the preliminary rounds in the 500 free and the 200 fly, but had record-breaking success competing in the 100 fly. In the preliminary round for the event, Lopus broke the MWC record in the event with a time of 52.44. Lopus time qualified her for the finals and put her in 13th place overall. In the finals, Lopus tied for 15th place to earn All-American recognition. Lopus is only the third Utah women's swimmer to be named an All-American, and was one of the two swimmers from the MWC to be named to the team for the 2008-2009 season.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
The Utes look to be stronger next year on both the men's and women's side. The men's team has a strong returning corps as all three of its all-conference selections return for the 2009-2010 season with many underclassmen contributors also returning.
The Utah women's team will only lose two athletes to graduation, highlighted by a strong returning sophomore class featuring Lopus and Caron.
The Utes will welcome an incoming class of freshman from across the country, bringing with them experience and talent as evidenced by their state championships and previous success on the national stage. The next season of Utah swimming and diving looks to bring even more success than the record-breaking 2008-09 campaign.