BYU swimmers splash past Utes

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    By WAYNE ARBALLO

    BYU’s swimming and diving teams opened their final WAC season Friday at the Richards Building by handing the University of Utah its first stinging loss of the year.

    The BYU women outswam Utah 179-64, and the Cougar men did their share of damage, beating the Utes 158-79.

    In diving, the BYU men swept the Utes in the 1-meter springboard, placing only first and third in the three-meter. Justin Breardall won the 1-meter springboard competition, and Virag Patil won the 3 meter.

    Diver Rachelle Smith was the only Cougar on the women’s squad to finish in the top three. She placed first in both the one meter and three meter events.

    Although there were many fast times at the meet, BYU men’s swimming coach Tim Powers said the emphasis right now is not entirely on the clock. He said the team is more focused on building endurance for the second part of the season, which includes the WAC and NCAA championships.

    “Right now our biggest thing we’re working on is the back half of our races. We’re nowhere near what will do when we peak. This is going to be a very good team,” Powers said.

    Although he doesn’t expect his team to be as fast now as it will be later, Powers said he still expects his swimmers to race like they will at the conference championships.

    “We don’t swim one way all year and then turn around and try to swim another way,” Powers said. “We’re practicing for being better at the end of the year all the way through.”

    Because of the Cougar dominance at the meet, the only real star for the Utes was sophomore Troy Johnson. Johnson was the only factor keeping BYU from grabbing first place in every event. Johnson won the men’s 50- and 100-yard freestyle.

    “The BYU-Utah rivalry is such a big thing,” Johnson said.

    “I think it’s a big win for me and a big win for our team. Personally, I feel really excited about the rest of the season because I know it’s going to progressively get better.”

    The teams will meet again Feb. 6.

    The Feb. 6 meet will be both teams’ last dual meet prior to the conference championships.

    Ute swimming coach Dennis Teich, conceded that he was expecting a tough meet prior to coming to Provo, but only because Utah’s focus is on the season three weeks from now.

    “We came into this meet knowing that we were probably going to get worked,” Teich said.

    “BYU swam really well, and it’s good for us to see that. I think it makes us rise to the occasion, but we didn’t rise to the occasion that happened tonight,” he said.

    1997-98 WAC Freshman of the Year, Arunas Savikas, was roughly two seconds shy of where he left off last year when he placed 12th in the nation and made the All-America second team at 1.37.07 in the 200 freestyle. In his race, Savikas stayed with a streaking Ute competitor just long enough to put the move on in the back half of the race.

    “Swimming is not just about muscle and power,” Savikas said. “You have to think too mentally … at this point of the season we’re not rested, you know, we’re tired. There’s no point in starting out fast the first 100 of the race because you can’t come back fast.”

    Commenting on the women’s team, coach Stan Crump said he was pleased and shocked at some of his swimmer’s performances.

    “Up and down the line we were awesome everywhere,” Crump said.

    “We can always get better in almost everything we do but really the times we did tonight are about what we expected based on the training we’re doing now … overall I really feel good about it.”

    There were impressive performances all around but particularly by sophomore Valynn Grant, sophomore Mary Duffin and junior Hannalee Hawkins.

    BYU next away meets will be in Texas to swim against Texas Christian and Rice Universities.

    Crump said going down to sea-level should help a little, but altogether the road swing through Texas is expected to be very tough.

    “It will be a little lighter week for ’em training wise, but it’s a real grueling trip.”

    Essentially, this road trip is comprised of two plane flights and two dual meets within a 24 hour period.

    BYU’s next home meet is on Nov. 13th at 5 p.m. against the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

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