Once a Cougar, always a Cougar: Alumni return to swim against BYU

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For most athletes, college graduation means they either go pro, or their competitive athletic careers are over. Not so for the BYU swim team’s alumni.

The annual Alumni meet on Sept. 20 gave previous Cougar swimmers another chance to strap on their goggles, squeeze into those speedos and take a dip in the RB pool, offering current student swimmers a chance to compete with them.

“It’s a great experience to have alumni come back and share their stories and their experiences. We welcome all alumni to come,” said head coach John Brooks.

The annual alumni meet gave current swimmers a taste of competitive swimming for the first time this season, as well as am opportunity to learn from those who have competed in the past.

“They have a lot of experience,” said Rainer Ng, a freshman from Singapore. “Being able to race with them is an honor.”

Samuel Bates, a recent BYU graduate, came and raced against the current swim team. He competed in the 200 medley relay, 50 free, 50 fly and 50 back races.

“I was really impressed with myself, and I love swimming with the guys,” Bates said.

For the current team, seeing their previous teammates is an opportunity to reunite and get excited for the upcoming season. For the upperclassmen, the alumni included their previous team captains, friends and relay partners.

BYU alumni reunited with current BYU swimmers for the Alumni meet to prepare for the season. Photo by Sarah Hill.
BYU alumni reunited with current BYU swimmers for the Alumni meet to prepare for the season. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

“It means a lot that they still want to be a part of the team and are involved in supporting us,” said Alexandria Sorensen, a sophomore swimming fly and sprints.

For some of the current swimmers, thw alumni match was their first time competing according to collegiate measurements. Ng and Lucas Aquino, a freshman from Brazil, both experienced their first collegiate meet in yards. The alumni meet did not focus on times; however, it created the racing environment swimmers need to prepare for for the upcoming season.

“It was a good first opportunity to race for everybody,” said Jordan Fletcher, a senior and captain of the BYU swim team. “The freshmen got a good taste of what it’s like competing at the collegiate level.”

Dallin Johnson, a junior swimming distance and free, is looking to beat the team record in the mile this season. Johnson recently returned from his mission in Chile and is working to get back in shape. His inspiration came from his father, who previously swam for BYU and still holds the record for the 200m butterfly.

Yolanda M. Bates, the stroke coach and women’s recruiter, also got in and swam with her students. Bates hopes her swimmers learn to have success this season, not because they are first, but because they learn to appreciate the little things they do well.

“If you can handle the hardest set, you can handle marriage,” Bates said, laughing.

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