Cougar Men Look to Score Big at 2000 NCAA Championships

Swimmer Arunas Savickas will join divers Devan Porter and Aaron Russell this weekend as they represent the Cougar men at the 2000 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships in Minneapolis, Minn.

Two-Year All-American Looks to Make it Three

Junior Arunas Savickas has been the backbone of the Cougar swimming squad since his arrival from Paneveyzs, Lithuania, in 1997. A backstroke and freestyle specialist, Savickas has won eight individual conference titles in three years. Savickas also holds five individual school records, four relay records, the WAC record in the 200 back, and five Mountain West Conference records. Savickas broke his own school records this year in the 100, 200 and 500 free events as well as the 800 free relay record. He was also named the Mountain West Conference Male Diver of the Week a

conference-high four times this season.

Savickas is preparing for a potential repeat appearance at the Summer Olympics, to be held this year in Sydney, Australia. Savickas competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, where he took 22nd in the world in the 200 back. Over the summer, Savickas took 11th in the 200 back at the World Short Course Championships in Hong Kong before finishing fourth in the 100 back at the European Championships in July. In both meets, Savickas shattered a total of five Lithuanian national records.

At the NCAA's Savickas has received All-America honors four times in the 200 free and 200 back. In 1998, Savickas finished seventh in the 200 back and 12th in the 200 free, and in 1999, Savickas placed 13th in the 200 free and 17th in the 200 back.

Savickas will compete in two events in this year's meet. Friday, his birthday, Savickas will swim the 200 free, an event in which he is ranked fifth in the nation headed into the meet. Savickas will then swim the 200 back, which he is also ranked in the top 20 in, Saturday. Savickas qualified for the 400 meter event as well but pulled out of the race to focus his energies on the other events.

A Beginning and an Ending--Two Divers Represent BYU

The Cougars will send two divers to the NCAA Championships this year, senior Devan Porter and freshman Aaron Russell. Porter has struggled much of the season with injury but pushed himself in the Zone E Qualifying Meet two weeks ago to qualify for the NCAA's. Porter was last year's WAC Champion on the 3M board and came back this season to repeat as the 3M winner in the new Mountain West Conference to earn Male Diver of the Year honors.

At the Zone E Qualifying Meet, Porter was forced to skip warm-ups due to pain in his back, but pulled out a gutty performance to finish second on the 1M and third on the 3M and qualify for nationals for the first time in his career.

Teammate Aaron Russell also qualified for nationals for the first time, but represents the other end of the spectrum for the Cougars, not as a graduating senior, but as a freshman. Following his graduation from high school, Russell served a two-year mission for the LDS Church to Portugal. Despite the two-year break in training, Russell has shown little trouble returning to the form that saw him earn All-America status each year in high school. Russell won the 1M event at the Mountain West Conference Championships in February, and won the 3M and finished fifth in the 1M meet at the Zone E Qualifying Meet. Russell was also named the conference's Male Diver of the Week for his performance at the BYU Diving Invitational in February.

Both Porter and Russell will compete on the 1M and 3M boards, with the 1M competition Thursday and the 3M event taking place Friday.

Coaches Quotes

"Arunas has looked good in practice. He had some trouble with tendonitis in his knee, but it looks like it should be alright. He's got the fifth-best time in the 200 free right now and should make the finals if he swims well." - Coach Tim Powers

"Devan has had back problems and hasn't been able to train as much, but he was able to push himself and qualify at the zone meet and could do well. Aaron also has the potential to do very well if he dives the way he is capable of diving." - Diving Coach Keith Russell

Results

Results from the 1M event will be available on Thursday, with the 3M and 200 free results available Friday. The 200 back finishes will be available Saturday. Scores and placements will be posted as they are available on BYU's official athletics web page, www.byucougars.com.