The BYU Swim and Dive teams are gearing up for their 2013 season, hoping to build on a strong showing last year resulted in a narrow defeat at the hands of UC Davis in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships.
“It was a hard loss, but I think we’re ready to win again and take back our title,” said Alexandra Dodds, a senior and captain of the women’s team. “It’s good to have lots of competition though because it motivates us to do well at conference and get fast times.”
Swimming coach John Brooks said the goal is constant improvement.
“Our goal every year is to try and do better than the year before,” Brooks said. “We want to win conference for both guys and girls and have as many people as we can make it to the NCAAs.”
Diving coach Keith Russels said junior Nicholas Suder and senior Raleigh Taylor will be major contenders for individual MPSF championships.
“We have a little bit better quality of a team going into this next conference,” Russels said. “However it seems hard to ask for more from our diving team when our men’s team scored more points than any other diving team, and our women’s team came in a close second in their conference.”
Russels also said the team has recruited impressive freshmen that will be able to contribute to the team right away.
On the swimming side, several students return with extensive experience on the Olympic level. Andrew Rutherfurd, a senior swimming breast stroke and the individual medley, has competed with the Bolivian team. Rafael Alfaro, a junior swimming breast stroke, fly and the individual medley, is a member of the El Salvador Olympic team.
“I’m really excited for this season; I just have a good feelings about it,” Dodds said.
Brooks has focused on raising the level of competition during practices in the off-season as they prepare for a rigorous schedule.
“We’re giving them some opportunities to swim by taking them to different meets than we’ve gone to before to race against fast swimmers,” Brooks said.
In addition to drills and miles upon miles of swimming all different strokes, Brooks said they have increased their strength and conditioning training. He also said two of the team’s major goals are to defeat the University of Utah when the two teems square off in January and eventually unseat MPSF champion UC Davis.
Swimming and diving are both unique sports that combine individual competition and team scores. The team scores overall points when one of their swimmers finishes in the top 16 spots. In addition, each swimmer tries to reduce their individual times in order to become one of the 25 fastest in the country and qualify for the NCAA tournament on their own.
Dodds said working as a team is what helps the swimmers improve individually.
“Having a support system and having people there pushing you gets me by,” Dodds said. “We practice together in and out of the pool. We’re not just a team, but we’re all good friends.”
Russels said the offseason is crucial for the team to prepare for the rigors of a long schedule that runs all the way through March.
“It takes commitment,” Russels said. “It’s when people get discouraged or injured, emotionally drained, that is when people aren’t able to do what they can do. If you’re committed then you can stay in the game and do what you can do.”