BYU Begins MWC Championships

PROVO -- The BYU women's and No. 18 men's swimming and diving teams are in Oklahoma City, Okla., to defend their three consecutive Mountain West Conference titles this week at the MWC Championships, Feb. 19-22.

Entering the tournament the Cougar men (8-0, 4-0) are the MWC regular season champions, going undefeated for the second time in two years. The men are the favorite to win the title after defeating all conference opponents this season by at least 84 points.

The women (5-6, 3-4) struggled early in the season with injuries and illness, but with the team healthy the Cougars have recorded three consecutive victories to end the season, and are ready to defend their conference titles.

2001-2002 MWC Conference Championships

The BYU men's and women's teams claimed their third straight MWC Championship titles last year. The women topped the conference with a score of 601, and the men put up a conference record 931.5 points, more than 180 points better than second place UNLV.

The Cougars brought home a combined nine individual conference championships including a sweep by Justin Wilcock in all three diving events. The Cougars have dominated the diving by claiming eight of the nine conference titles over the last three seasons.

Swimmers and Divers to Watch

MEN

Seniors Jeff Mason, Christopher Johnson, and Aaron Russell are expected to have strong performances at the MWC Championships. Mason and Johnson have both turned in top 50 times in the country this year. Mason turned in the 42nd fastest time in the country for his performance in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.55 at the Speedo Cup Invitational. Johnson finishes the regular season holding the 38th and 45th fastest times in the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events with times of 49.99 and 1:48.85 respectively.

Mason finished the season undefeated against conference competitors in the 200 freestyle event, and is expected to contend for the conference title. Johnson also is undefeated in both the 100 and 200 back when facing conference competitors.

All-American Russell is expected to win all three diving events for the Cougars this season. Russell is undefeated in the 3-M event this season.

WOMEN

Senior Cortnee Adams has brought life back to the Cougars since her return in January. Adams has gone undefeated in the 50, 100, and 200 free events each time she has competed in them. Her times are also among the top five in the conference for each event.

Throughout the season team captain Amanda Grant has provided solid performances with wins in the 200 breast and the 200 IM. Teammate Tamber Covington, last season's 200 breaststroke champion, returned to the water in early December following knee surgery, and has returned to top form recording wins in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events as well as wins in the 200 and 400 IM events.

Junior Monica Ferrell's strength in the mid-distance and fly should bring added experience and depth to the Cougars. Ferrell has recorded wins in the 1000 and 500 freestyle as well as the 200 fly.

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