BYU begins their 2005-2006 season this week at Utah. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- The Cougars will kick off their 2005-2006 swimming and diving campaign this week with the annual Don Reddish (Beehive) Relays in Salt Lake City versus in-state rival Utah and Villanova Thursday at 6 p.m. Thursday's relay event will precede the traditional homecoming Blue/White alumni meet Friday in the Richards Building Pool at 6 p.m.
Last year's Beehive relay proved productive for the Cougars. The men finished first and the women tied with Utah, including a clean sweep on the boards. The two in-state rivals both fared well last season as the BYU men split the Mountain West Conference regular-season title with Utah and the Cougar women followed the Utes with a second-place finish. The BYU men and women then went on to finish second behind UNLV at the MWC Championship meet.
Thursday's relay will not be scored on the season, but women's swimming coach Stan Crump said he sees it more as an opportunity to break-in the freshman and have some fun.
"It's nice to drive up the road and get some racing in," Crump said. "It will also be a chance to watch the girls compete and see how they're doing."
The women will be returning senior Brittany Davis, last season's conference champion in the 500 free and 200 back. Sophomore Angela Goodson, a contender in backstroke, will add an additional threat to the Cougar's roster.
The men's team is expected to be led by returning juniors Jorge Azevedo, a finalist in the 100 free last season, and Brett Allen, a top sprinter for BYU.
Men's swimming coach Tim Powers said the meet will give his team a sense of where they are - and where they want to be.
"We're training really hard right now," Powers said. "And we'll just keep getting better."
BYU diving coach Keith Russell anticipates the divers will also perform well, returning three conference champions in sophomores Ron Morris, Angela Nelson and Kristin Pitt. Cougars will also look to freshman Austin Barrand, a two-time High School All-American from Highland Ranch, Colo., to tally additional points.
"As the season goes on we'll build more momentum and perform at a higher level," coach Russell said. "But I am expecting a good contest Thursday."
In addition to the scheduled relay competition, divers will perform a synchronized diving exhibition.