A mathematical error, a broken starting beeper, a loud crowd and a bunch of sick swimmers were no help to BYU’s swim and dive team in the Deseret First Duel in the Ute Natatorium on Saturday night.
The men’s and women’s teams lost to their rival, the University of Utah, after a close meet. In the women’s races the Utes won 181–117 and on the men’s side, the Utes pulled ahead by a mere 12 points in a 156–144 finish.
The meet was so close in the men’s races, in fact, that many were left wondering who won at the end of the meet.
“There were multiple people that came up to me after the meet and said, ‘Oh, congratulations on winning the meet’,” BYU Head Coach John Brooks said.
The confusion resulted after the score came up on the scoreboard indicating the Cougars were ahead by five points in the men’s races with only two events remaining. After some quick math, the team realized if they placed first and third in the last relay it would be enough to pull off a win in the last event.
So that’s what the Cougars did. In the 400 freestyle relay, Preston Jenkins, Samuel Bates, Garret Beaman and Brent Murray swam with a time of 3:03.05, placing first, with Stott Bushnell, David Armstrong, David Harlan and Payton Soreson securing the third place spot. It seemed the BYU men’s team had won. However, the team was surprised to find out the score posted two events before the end was inaccurate and the Utes had actually won by 12 points.
“It would have been nice to know, but it is what it is,” Brooks said. “Our guys swam about as good as they could have swum. The University of Utah swam really well and the Utah divers had a hot day. We lost and it’s kind of a bummer, but our team is geared up to do well at our conference championship meet.”
However, the score mishap wasn’t the only quirk of this meet. As the meet began, the starting system malfunctioned, which synchronizes the starting of the clock with a loud beep, alerting the swimmers to leap from their blocks.
Because of the technical difficulties, the teams decided to do it the old fashioned way, firing a starter gun while attempting to start the clock at the exact same moment. This method had its issues as well when the gun would misfire, making a click sound instead of the boom needed to overcome the crowd noise. This resulted in several swimmers jumping in slightly later than others.
After the first few races, the gun was abandoned and the races were started with a whistle. This too, however, caused problems when swimmers on the far side of the pool were hearing the whistle too late and jumping in a second behind the closer swimmers.
In the end a blow horn was brought out, being loud enough for all the swimmers to hear over the roaring Ute fans in the stands and was used for the remainder of the meet.
“It was one of the loudest meet I’ve been to,” junior Brent Murray said. “There’s one little section that seats about 500. It’s pretty small but everybody is just screaming as loud as they can.”
Murray, who previously swam for the Utes in 2010, was somewhat nervous before coming back to swim at the Ute Natatorium, but he put on an impressive show at the meet despite the loud crowd — placing first in the 50 free, second in the 100 free, and winning first in both the 200 IM relay and the 400 free relay.
“I just acted like they were cheering for me,” Murray said.
Murray also said the meet proved to be a positive experience for him after his former Ute coach came over to congratulate him after the meet.
As if the malfunctions and noise weren’t enough, several members of the women’s team came battling sickness from the week before.
“We had four or five people throwing up all week before the meet,” captain Taryn Toolson Lewis said. “We were hoping to still win even though we were really broken down and tired, but it didn’t happen that way and Utah swam fast.”
Despite being sick herself, Toolson Lewis managed to place fourth in the 50 free.
“I think overall we were disappointed,” Toolson Lewis said. “It’s the first time in six years that the girls have lost to them and it was the first time in three years that the guys have lost to them. The rivalry is more intense than any other rivalry we have, so it was a bummer to lose, but next year we’ll come and fight harder and prove that we’re still the better team.”
With this Deseret First Duel closing out this semester for the men’s team and with only one more meet for the women, Brooks looks forward to seeing the teams perform in the conference championship and NCAA championships.
“Our team is very focused,” Brooks said. “They want to win conference. They want to represent BYU on a national level; they want to do as well as they can. Our team is very focused and very driven. They’re doing a good job.”
The next meet for the women will be held at Boise State on Dec. 16 at 12 p.m. at the Boise-West Family YMCA. The men’s and women’s training camp will start up Dec. 27 in preparation for next semester’s meets.
For the Deseret First Duel results check out byucougars.com.