The 2008-09 BYU Swim and Dive Team (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
The BYU men’s and women’s swim and dive teams continued their winning traditions with a successful 2008-09 campaign.
For the third time since the inception of the Mountain West Conference, the women pulled off the difficult task of winning both the regular season and MWC Championships. The women tallied a perfect record in the MWC (8-0) and had only one loss against the No. 2 team in the country, Stanford (17-1 overall).
“It was a record-setting season for our women’s team,” said BYU head coach Tim Powers. “Even though we had a transition year with our coaching staff, they responded well and represented our school well.”
With the MWC Championship win, the BYU women have now won the title in eight of 10 seasons since the MWC was formed. The Cougar men finished fourth at the MWC Championships and third in the regular season (3-2 MWC, 6-4 overall).
Sophomore Rachel Grant was the only Cougar swimmer to make it to the NCAA Championships. She competed in the 400 individual medley and the 200 butterfly, placing 29th and 33rd, respectively.
At the MWC Championships, BYU had many swimmers break school and MWC records, including Grant who shattered three BYU records, the 200 fly (2:01.19), 200 IM (2:01.19) and 400 IM (4:13.38). Junior Natasha Menezes broke two MWC records and one BYU record in the 500 free (MWC, BYU – 4:47.54) and 1650 free (MWC – 16:30.20).
Senior Leilani Roberts set the first record of her career in the 100 free with a time of 49.21, a new BYU and MWC record in the event. Freshman Candice Smith set two new BYU records in the backstroke events (100 back - 55.36, 200 back – 1:57.79).
“The women did very well,” said Powers. “We had a number of individual conference champions, which was excellent. I was pleased with their performance and I think we have the potential to be even better next year.”
The women’s relay teams had great success in breaking records in three different events at MWC Championships. The 200 free relay team broke both the MWC and BYU all-time records with a time of 1:31.19 (Kirsty Ferrell, L. Roberts, Sara Jayne Christiansen, Aleesha Miller). The 400 free relay team of Roberts, N. Menezes, K. Ferrell and Miller also broke both the MWC and BYU records with a time of 3:18.77. Finishing out the broken relay records for the women was the 400 medley relay team that set a new MWC mark with a time of 3:40.63 (Smith, Christiansen, K. Ferrell, Miller).
Nineteen individuals were named to the All-MWC team including 11 women and eight men. Christiansen, K. Ferrell, Grant, Kelsey Higginson, Ava Jackman, Tawni Jones, Michelle Menezes, N. Menezes, Miller, Roberts and Smith picked up 27 All-MWC awards for the women while Stott Bushnell, Kenneth Clark, Gregor Greiner, Samuel Hatch, Jacoby Jacobsen, John Kendrick, Ronald Morris and Vytenis Slenys tallied 14 All-MWC citations. The men’s 200 free relay and 400 free relay teams also were given All-MWC honors while the women’s 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 medley relay and 400 free relay teams were honored.
Eight different swimmers and divers were honored during the year as MWC Players of the Week. Grant, Jones, N. Menezes, Jackman and Miller were the women who achieved Swimmer or Diver of the Week honors, with Jackman achieving the award twice during the season. Kendrick, Morris and Jacobsen were the men who were named athletes of the week by the MWC, Morris achieving it twice.
The MWC honored both Jackman and Morris as Divers of the Year at the MWC Championships after both won the 1-meter diving competition and for their stellar competition throughout the season.
“On the men’s side we faced our struggles through the season,” said Powers. “We had some problems with our depth, but we were able to come through and win a few conference meets. Taking aside our conference losses, we had some all-time top-five performances at the Mountain West Conference Championships. Ron Morris did the best he has ever done on the 1-meter.”
In his last season as a Cougar, Greiner led the sprint freestyle events all season, topping it off by breaking the MWC and BYU 100 free record (43.34) at the MWC Championships. Kendrick led the distance swimmers, breaking the all-time BYU record in the 1650 free with a time of 15:21.66, also at the MWC Championships.
Other key swims for the men on the season came from Slenys who dropped significant time in the 200 IM at the MWC Championships with a time of 1:47.76, the third-fastest in BYU history. Freshman Bushnell and junior J. Ferrell both swam lifetime bests in the 500 free at the MWC Championships, placing them fourth and fifth, respectively, all-time at BYU.
“95-percent of our swims were lifetime bests,” said Powers. “There are a lot of really good performances that we had this season, but we just lacked in the depth.”