By AmyAnn Rupp
When it comes to taking on the University of Utah, it does not take much to motivate BYU athletes.
And when the BYU men”s swimming and diving team squared off against the Utes on Friday, Nov. 1, they blew the Utes out of the water.
The men won their meet with 161.5 points to Utah”s 81.5 placing first in every event but four.
“There is good swimming and competition going on tonight,” coach Tim Powers said.
Sophomore sprinter James Bekker attributed the good swimming to the long-standing rivalry between BYU and Utah.
“When you want to do your very best you dig deep and usually pull something out,” Bekker said. “That is what is happening tonight, we want to beat Utah so we are pulling it out.”
The tone of the meet began with a heated 400 medley relay in which BYU barely lost to Utah.
BYU however gained strength from that race to win nine out of the remaining 12 events.
Finishing first for the Cougars were: freshman Zach Andersen in the 1000 free (9.45.03), senior Jeff Mason in the 200 free (1.41.67) and 100 free (46.00), junior Diego Yabe in the 200 individual medley (1.52.24), senior Christopher Johnson in the 200 backstroke (1.52.04), junior Randy Belliston in the 500 Free (4.42.36), senior diver Aaron Russell in the 1 meter (347.60) and 3 meter (290.40) competitions, and the 400 medley relay team of seniors Billy Betz, Brent Parker, Yabe and Mason (3.03.51).
“At first I was a little worried about the Utah guy,” Andersen said about the 1000 free. “But I decided to just relax and stay in my stroke and it turned out really well.”
Mason said that despite the big crowd and rivalry pressure he was calm going into the race.
“By being calm I could focus on doing the right techniques,” Mason said. “A lot of times the big crowds help get the adrenaline going so much that you forget how to swim the race.”
The Utes were competitive Friday night, something BYU had not entirely expected.
“Utah was a lot stronger than they were a week ago when they raced UC Irvine,” Powers said. “They were very competitive and have turned a corner in their program this week.”
Ute swimmer Eric Jorgensen said the strong competition proves that a stronger rivalry will immerge this year.
“Give it a year and we will beat the Cougars no problem,” Jorgensen said. “We have put up a good fight in almost every event.”
Despite the competition, BYU captain Chris Johnson said that it was fun to swim against Utah.
“They are really stepping up the bar this year,” Johnson said. “But it is great swimming. Both teams are having a good time competing against each other.”
The Cougars dominated on both the swimming and diving side of the competition.
“We did really well,” diving coach Keith Russell said. “Although there was only one Utah diver, we still had to show up and do our thing against Utah. You can”t rest on your laurels.”
Russell, winner of both men”s diving events said everyone was working hard and doing great, all contributing to a solid diving team this year.
“Winning in this rivalry is all about bragging rights,” freestyler Brian Sorensen said. “It is on a whole different level.”
The Cougars ended the meet with a strong win in the 400 freestyle relay, captain Billy Betz said.
“Utah hasn”t been this good in years,” Betz said. “It is good to have them back in competition again. They really showed up today.”
The Cougars meet the Utes again Jan.31 at Utah. The team has a break before they swim against UNLV and Florida State Nov. 22.