The men’s BYU swimming and diving team finished the 2015-16 season by claiming an MPSF conference championship and sending three athletes to the NCAA Championships. The women’s team took fourth place in the conference.
“I am extremely proud of our entire team,” said BYU head coach John Brooks. “The men’s team did great (in the conference championship), and the women’s team really stepped it up and did a great job.”
Men’s swim and dive team sets records
The men’s team won five of its eight meets on the season. In those meets they set 10 new school records and and six new conference championship records.
Sophomore Payton Sorenson set MPSF records in both the 50 and 100 yard freestyle events, posting 19.53-second and 42.94-second times, respectively.
Standout Jake Taylor finished his final conference competition by adding four additional records to his resume. Taylor set two individual school and conference records in the 200 yard backstroke and 400 yard individual medley.
Taylor and Sorenson also contributed in setting relay records. Preston Jenkins, Connor Stirling, Sorenson and Taylor clocked a 2:53.11 to set BYU and MPSF records the 400 freestyle relay event. The Cougars also set school and conference records in the 800 freestyle relay with Luis Ventura, Stirling, Jenkins, and Taylor combining for a 6:26.28 time.
Junior Kevin Dreesen set a new school record in the three meter, six dive event. He also got the second best BYU scores in both the one meter and platform six dive events.
Women’s swim and dive season summary
The young team won three of its nine meets of the season, each coming by small margins. This came as an improvement to last season’s 1-8 record, but the Cougars claimed the same fourth place finish at the MPSF Conference Championship.
BYU edged out UNLV with a score of 155-145 behind seven first place performances on Nov. 6, 2015. The highlight of the meet was a big comeback by Kelly Hatanaka to win the 200 individual medley and seal the team victory.
The Cougars beat Oregon State by a score of 133-129 for the second victory of the season on Nov. 14, 2016. “I’m really proud of our team,” said BYU head coach John Brooks. “Zerlynn (Tiang) and Lillian (Moore) did a great job in all of their events. It was very close to the end and we had to win that last relay to win the meet, and we did, so that was very fun. We just put together a great team effort.”
In their final win of the season the women’s team beat New Mexico State and Grand Canyon on Jan. 9, 2016. The Cougars took home five first and four second place finishes in one of their best performances of the season.
Anna Dahl set a new BYU record in the 100 breast stroke event with a 1:01.34 time.
Taylor, Sorenson and Dreesen all participated in the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships for the Cougars who finishing ranked 21st overall.
“Jake came out sixth and All-American so that’s very exciting,” said BYU head coach John Brooks. “The most impressive thing is that we have three returned missionaries at the meet, who took two years off. Add that to the facilities that we have, to do what we did compared to everyone else at the NCAA Championships, who have unbelievable facilities, is pretty amazing. Our athletes are dedicated to this university, and finishing in the top 25 is awesome for us. This is one of the fastest meets on the planet and I’m just happy that we can have swimmers here and compete.”
Taylor earned First Team All-American honors in the 100 and 200 yard backstroke. This finished his career at BYU with five All-American honors, tied for second most in school history.
Sorenson earned Second-Team All-American honors in the 50 freestyle with a 14th place finish. Sorenson just missed the 100 freestyle finals on Saturday, clocking a 43.57.
Dreesen scored a 305.35 in the 1-meter dive putting him at 32nd overall.
“Dreesen got in the groove after his first couple of dives and hopefully he can continue his success next season,” Brooks said. “It was he and Payton’s first trip to the NCAA’s so it is a great experience for them.”
The men’s team will look to fill the big shoes of its seniors as about one fifth of the team graduates this year. Graduates include Nathan Henderson, Dallin Johnson, Stephen Richards, Chad Sorenson and Taylor. Payton Sorenson will look to build on his successful young career in his final two years as a Cougar.
The women’s team will look to build on its success they had this year as a young team. Only three of its 32 swimmers graduate this year including Alexandria Sorensen, Zerlynn Tiang and Ali-Tippetts-Kottcamp.