After taking second place in the Mountain West Conference last year, both the men’s and women’s swim and dive teams will look to carry on their tradition to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
“While this is a new conference for us, we will still be facing a lot of the same competition,” said BYU head coach Tim Powers. “ We’ll no doubt have our challenges, but we’re confident that we can do well. It will be good to see our new competition at invites early on and get a better feel for how we need to prepare for conference meets. “
The men and women’s teams proved their strength and consistency in the MWC in years passed. They now have the opportunity to continue this trend in the MPSF while facing some familiar teams. The teams joining the MPSF from the MWC include the men of Air Force, Wyoming, UNLV and BYU as the only addition for women.
Team captains this year are Daniel Bates and Ryan Krause for the men's team, and Jodie Ellis and Candice Smith for the women's.
The Cougars lost some quality sprinters due to graduation this past season. Both Christian Keil and Aleesha Miller left huge spots to fill in the sprint team. However, Daniel Bates and Ryan Krause will look to finish their careers strong as they compete in their final season at BYU. Garret Beaman, a transfer from University of Utah, will be a great addition to the Cougars as he was a finalist at the MWC championships last season in both the sprint and IM.
Additions to the sprint team include Haley Campbell for the women. Campbell is a transfer from Penn State who was a finalist in the Big 10 for her performances in sprint free and backstroke.
Chad Fong returns for his senior year after a good showing at conference champs last year where he took ninth in the 500 free. Robert Miner and Sam Bates, swimming the 200 and 500 free, will continue their efforts on the distance team as a returners as well.
Stott Bushnell is a recently returned missionary who was named All-MWC his freshman year for his performance in the 200 free at the MWCC. Another addition to the team is freshman Seth Russell.
“We have high hopes for our women distance swimmers,” BYU head coach Tim Powers said. “We have some solid returners, but we also have some great recruits who we know will perform very well”.
Allie Dodds is one of the top returners for the women’s team after receiving All-Conference recognition for her performances in the 500 free, 1650 free and 400 IM. Senior Amy Xu and junior Alina Fong will also continue their efforts on the distance team.
Newcomers include high school All-American Alia Welsh, CIF champion and All-American Andrea Grant and local state champion Hope Masters.
BYU lost All-MWC backstroker Jake Taylor to a mission, but returned Christian Hanselmann from one to continue to add depth to the men’s backstroke team. Fletcher will also compete as a returner in the 100 back.
Freshmen Daniel Kelly and Casey McEachern are newcomers to the team and will look to increase the strength of the backstroke team.
Candice Smith is the most promising returner to the women’s backstroke team after a successful 2010-11 season where she made All-Conference for her performances in the 100 and 200 back as well as the 200 medley relay.
Other returning backstrokers include Erin Pabst and Meagan Stone. Transfer Hailey Campbell will also add her efforts to the backstroke team.
Top returners for the breaststroke team include Rafael Alfaro, Nathan Henderson and Brady Wells. Andrew Rutherfurd also returns to the team after a mission and a summer of swimming internationally.
The women will look to juniors Londyn Clawson and Kassandra Bispo to head up the breaststroke team. Freshman Meghan O’Very, a state champion from Logan, Utah, will add depth to the team.
“We have a lot of confidence in our fly swimmers this year,” Powers said. “Both returners and newcomers are very strong and capable.”
Krause, Jordan Fletcher and Alfaro will return as the staples of the butterfly team. The team will also gain David Armstrong and transfer Gary Arthur. Arthur comes to BYU from Los Angeles Valley College where he was the California Community College State champion in the 200 fly and second in the 100 fly.
Returning for the women is Marnie Knoop who placed ninth at the MWCC in the 200 fly. Meagan Stone, Amanda Heninger and Jodie Ellis will join Knoop as returners to the team.
Rafael Alfaro and Brady Wells will continue to compete in the IM, along with freshman Seth Russell, transfer Garret Beaman and mission-returned Andrew Rutherfurd.
Allie Dodds and Marnie Knoop are the veterans of the women’s IM team. Newcomer Alia Welsh was a high school All-American in the 400 IM while in Tennessee.
Senior and All-American Brandon Watson will return for his last year after a stellar summer competing internationally. Watson spent time in Germany early on in the summer, then made his way to China in August for the World University Games where he took eighth place in the 3-meter competition. Last season, he was voted MWC Diver of the Year after taking first place in the 1-meter at the MWCC. He also placed fourth in the consolation final of the 1-meter at NCAAs and second in the 3-meter at NCAA Zone E champs.
Travis Day will also be returning to dive for BYU after taking fourth in the 1-meter and fifth in the 3-meter last season at the MWCC. The Cougars will add Matt Denkers, Jordan Tuckfield and Kevin Dreesen to the men’s dive team.
For the women, Dayna Christensen will return after placing seventh in the 3-meter at both the MWCC and the Zone E Championships last season. Mikenna Cloward, Serena Miskin and Raleigh Williams will be back to compete for BYU along with newcomer Haley Francois, one of the top female divers to come out of California.
“We definitely have strong returners to the team, but we’ve also gained some very talented swimmers,” Powers said. “We have confidence that we will be successful in the new conference. We’re excited to go up against some new competition and we have a solid team that’s definitely up for the challenge.”