Cougars Capture Fifth Straight MWC Crown
The BYU men's swimming and diving team started the season ranked No. 19 in the nation and were the four-time MWC champions, but just like every year the Cougars had to replace valuable members of their team lost to graduation or missions if they had any hope of continuing their success.
Gone from the team was All-American diver Aaron Russell and 10 other letter winners. If the Cougars were going to earn their fifth straight MWC title and maintain their national ranking, it was going to take a lot of hard work and effort.
The men's team opened the season with a meet against its biggest rival, the University of Utah. This meet would not count against either team's conference record, but that didn't mean it was any less important.
The Cougars defeated Utah 156-132, earning victories in the 300 backstroke relay, the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 free relays and the 400 medley relay. Diver Justin Beardall also placed first in the 1- and 3-meter springboard.
BYU then took on UNLV in the first conference meet of the season. The Cougars dominated the Rebels from start to finish in to earn a 152-80 victory. They were especially strong especially strong in the relays. In the 400 free relay, BYU placed first, second and fourth. The team also placed first in the 400 free relay.
Earning first place finishes against UNLV were Zach Anderson (1000 and 500 free), Mark Chay (200 free), Kurt Mullen (50 and 100 free), David Scott (200 breast) and Gary Tan (200 IM and 200 back).
Next up for the Cougars was a quadrangular meet against Notre Dame, Iowa and Louisville. BYU was able to defeat both Notre Dame and Louisville, but fell short against Iowa.
BYU crushed Louisville 236-56 and defeated the Irish 178-116. Chay won two of his events, the 100 and 200 free, to earn his first MWC swimmer of the week nod. Randy Belliston and Gary Tan each had good meets with both earning two second-place finishes.
Following the trip to South Bend, Ind., BYU was off to the Speedo Cup hosted by UC-Irvine. The Cougars faced some of the top teams in the country at this meet, including perennial powerhouse Stanford.
BYU finished second in the meet for the second straight year behind Stanford with Zach Anderson setting a MWC and BYU record in the 1650 free, placing second with a time of 15:24.70. Anderson also placed third in the 500 free and was named MWC swimmer of the week.
Anderson then traveled to the U.S. Open swim meet in Federal Way, Wash., placing ninth in the 1,500 free.
Before breaking for the Christmas Holiday, BYU hosted the BYU Diving Invitational. Justin Beardall placed first in the platform and second in the 1- and 3-meter springboard, while his teammate Scott Randall placed first in the 3-meter, second in the platform and third in the 1-meter.
After the Christmas break, BYU traveled to Seattle to take on the University of Washington of the Pac-10. The Cougars came up a little short, losing for only the second time of the season.
Belliston continued to have an excellent senior campaign, placing second in the 200 IM behind teammate Diogo Yabe, while placing first in the 500 free. Belliston also swam on the 400 free relay team that placed first. Also winning events for BYU were Kurt Mullen (50 free) and Kenny Carpenter (200 fly)
BYU took on Air Force and Wyoming next in a pair of MWC dual meets. The Cougars easily dispatched of the Falcons 142-101. The Cougars placed first in five swimming events and won both diving events in the victory.
The Cougars also earned an easy victory against Wyoming, winning 149-90. Anderson paced the Cougars in the distance events, winning both the 1000 and 500 free. Teammate Diogo Yabe also won two races, the 100 fly and 200 free.
Following his performance against Air Force and Wyoming, Yabe was named the MWC swimmer of the week.
The Cougars closed out the dual meet season with a meet against Utah at the Richards Building pool. The team dominated from start to finish losing only one race all night. Chay and Anderson both won two events, with Chay placing first in the 200 free and 100 back and Anderson winning the 500 and 1000.
BYU finished MWC competition undefeated to win the regular season championship and looked to add a conference meet title as well when they traveled to Oklahoma City for the MWC Championships.
Six different Cougars won individual titles, including Anderson in the 500 free, Belliston in the 400 IM, Chay in the 200 free,Yabe in the 200 IM, Randall in the platform and Beardall in the 1-meter to lead BYU to its fifth straight conference championship. Belliston set a new BYU and MWC record with his time in the 400 IM.
Having qualified earlier in the season, Beardall and Randall competed in the Zone E diving championships also held in Oklahoma City. Beardall placed fourth in the 1-meter and seventh in the 3-meter to qualify for the NCAA championships.
Also qualifying for the NCAA championships in East Meadow, N.Y. were Diogo Yabe and Anderson. Beardall came closest to qualifying for the finals just missing the 16-man final by placing 17th. Yabe and Anderson didn't reach the finals in any of their events but both set MWC and BYU records for short course meters in their events to close out the season.