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The BYU swim teams had an emotional and intense meet against Utah on Friday as the seniors took to their home pool for the last time and head coach Tim Powers coached the last home meet of his career. The men’s and women’s swim and dive teams both defeated Utah, the men winning 161-133 and the women winning 162-138.
The meet started with introductions of the seniors and a special introduction briefly describing Powers’ own career and the time he spent coaching at BYU. Powers is retiring at the end of this season, having coached the Cougars for the past 37 years.
Senior Candice Smith even once told Powers during her freshman year that he could not retire until she was a senior and that’s how things played out.
It was close from the beginning as the women’s 200 medley relay team of Hailey Campbell, Kassy Bispo, Kim Welch and Taryn Toolson came in second with a time of 1:44.43. The men’s team of Jordan Fletcher, Brady Wells, David Armstrong and Garret Beaman got edged out of first place by four hundredths of a second, ending with a time of 1:31.54.
Both men and women took first in their respective heats of the 200 free. Alia Welsh touched in with a time of 1:51.01 for the women and Stott Bushnell with a time of 1:42.14 for the men.
In diving, the men swept the 1-meter and 3-meter boards. Senior Brandon Watson led the way once again.
On the 1-meter, Watson took first with a score of 386.40, Travis Day took second with a score of 316.20 and Matt Denkers took third with a score of 309.75. On the 3-meter, Watson took first with a score of 434.50, Kevin Dreesen took second with a score of 350.33 and Day took third with a score of 328.43.
For the women, Dayna Christensen took first on the 3-meter with a score fo 305.85 and Syrena Miskin took third with a score of 284.33. Christensen also took third on the 1-meter with a score of 255.83.
The final event of the night, the men’s 400 freestyle relay, was the most thrilling. Throughout the whole race, BYU’s team of Bushnell, Armstrong, Bates and Beaman kept things close, but Utah remained ahead. On the final leg of the race, in its last seconds, BYU’s anchor Garret Beaman brought his team to victory. Their final time was 3:03.00. Almost immediately after the race ended, the crowd and swim teams erupted into a resounding chant of “BYU! BYU!”
Even Powers was surprised by what his team managed to do, later saying that “we shouldn’t have won the last relay.” A second-place finish still would have meant an overall victory for the men, but Beaman helped end things differently. For him, the victory came on an even more personal level because he used to swim for Utah.
Beaman found it difficult to put into words what it felt like to defeat his old school and his old team in such a close race, acknowledging that it definitely felt good to win but it was also bittersweet. He had no reservations regarding this past season with BYU, though.
“I love this team,” Beaman said. “We’re like a family.”
As a senior, Smith could not have asked for a better ending, calling the meet “a blast” and her last season as a Cougar “fantastic.”
Powers was happy with how well things turned out and called it appropriate his final home meet was against Utah. The first meet he ever coached for BYU was in December of 1975 against the University of Utah.
“Utah had the national champion flyer, an All-American relay team and 5 All-Americans overall,” Powers said. “We had one [All-American]. We hadn’t won against Utah in five years. We won 81-30 in my first meet.”
Throughout the years, BYU and Utah have had many battles full of back and forth struggles. Powers said he is going to miss coaching but it’s time to pass the torch on.
“That’s what’s so exciting about college swimming and college sports,” Powers said. “The teams are putting their hearts and souls into everything. Our guys had a lot of heart tonight.”