BYU swimming and diving is preparing to kick off the 2019-20 season in an annual exhibition relay meet against Utah on Friday, Sept. 20. The men’s and women’s teams have a combined 14 incoming freshman who are preparing to compete in 2019.
“Everyone is pretty excited,” BYU swimming and diving head coach John Brooks said. “I think we have a balanced women’s team, and the men’s team (has) a handful of incoming freshmen and returned missionaries that are all pretty strong. We have some pretty fast swimmers on our team. We have six members of our team that have Olympic trial cuts.”
The athletes shared a similar enthusiasm for the coming season.
Sophomore Brynn Sproul said she is excited to see how the relays turn out because they have some fast incoming freshmen, including a couple of distance swimmers. She said she is looking forward to seeing the energy and spirit they will bring the team.
Last season, Sproul qualified for the Olympic trials during winter nationals.
“I was just hoping for a best time at that point, so when I saw the time … I was just overwhelmed but super excited. It was so unexpected, and it was just really incredible to get it so soon,” Sproul said.
The 2018-19 season was also a big win for sophomore Gwen Gustafson, BYU’s No. 1 all-time best in the 50-yard freestyle and No. 2 in the 100-yard freestyle. Her times were 22.49 and 49.61 respectively.
“I had a really good season,” Gustafson said. “I had personal best in the 50 (free), 100 (free), and 100 fly, so that was a good year for me. Hopefully I can see as much success this season.”
Each athlete has different methods for preparing for a big meet, which they say can be stressful no matter how many times they’ve competed. Sproul says she watches a movie or spends time with her friends to relax her mind.
Gustafson’s method is almost the exact opposite. Just like Sproul, she gets pre-racing anxiety, but she researches her opponents and their stats and focuses her mind on all of her races. She says she makes sure to tighten her goggles because she is nervous they will fill up with water when she dives in.
Whether they try to avoid thinking about the meet or research their opponents, BYU swimmers agree that their teammates and coaches are supportive and wish each other the best inside and out of the pool.
“You’re always going to have some head butting on a team this big, but we always cheer each other on,” Sproul said. “It’s more of a team here. On my club-team, my experience was very individual. At BYU I feel like it’s so much more of a family, and we’re behind each other and wanting each other to succeed even if you’re in the same events as the other person. You’re excited for their successes.”
The Cougars will face the University of Utah in their annual relay against Utah at 5 p.m. on Sept. 20. Entrance to all swim meets is free.