By WAYNE ARBALLO
The BYU men’s swimming team looks to improve over last year’s 10-2 season with an arsenal of returning swimmers and a huge recruiting class.
This year’s team is loaded with a devastating core of talent as well as some serious leadership.
It includes a couple of All-Americans, a WAC freshman of the year, a WAC Coach of the Year and 12 high school All-American recruits.
If that isn’t enough, throw in the presence of one former Lithuanian Olympian, Arunas Savikas; a world class sprinter/butterflier from Sweden, David Karlsson; and the nations’ No. 10 breaststroker from Moscow, Dimitri Malinovski, and the Cougars should have a team this year.
“This might be the best recruiting class we’ve ever had,” men’s coach Tim Powers said in a news release. “When you add these recruits to the players we have coming back, we should have a great team …”
The team looks to give the WAC a departing gift as they stand poised to romp through the season undefeated in their dual meets.
“In our last year in the WAC we want to go out with a bang,” Powers said.
The only school standing in the way of doing the same at conference is top ten ranked Southern Methodist University.
“SMU is the defending conference champion … we do look at SMU,” Powers said. “We gave ’em a run for it last year and we want obviously to try to do that again.”
However, on the national level, Powers wants to improve upon the their 22nd place finish from last year’s NCAAs. According to Powers, that next step would come in the form of sending a relay team to Nationals.
“We need to get some relays to the NCAAs … we were like 13th in the country with our relays last year. They take the top 12.”
What that does for BYU is give them the opportunity to move up in the national rankings because relay teams score double points.
“We’ve got some really fast swimmers in every event and so our relays should do really well,” team captain Brad Parsons said. ”
Doing better than last season overall means the Cougars would have to go through the season undefeated or with a single loss. Last year’s only losses were to Arizona State University and University of Nevada Las Vegas.
In those match-ups, ASU stomped the men swimmers in Provo 227-116 while UNLV squeezed by BYU at home 134-108.
This year, BYU travels to ASU to return the favor. Last season, BYU averaged a 54 percent margin of victory in dual meets.
However, in spite of the strength this year’s team boasts, the tenths or hundredths of a second necessary for a victory may come down to good-old-fashion screaming fan support.
“We love that, Parsons said. “Fan support is one of the top things that we can think of … it really motivates us and gets us really fired up.”
This is coach Powers 23rd season as BYU’s men’s swimming coach. Powers has an overall record of 183-81 and was named president elect of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America.
The association oversees all the rules and regulations governing NCAA swimming for all divisions of colleges.
In a press release Powers said he was honored to be selected to serve the NCAA swimming community as president of the association. He’ll serve a three year term as president elect, then three years as president and finally three years as past president.