Coming off of their third consecutive Mountain West Conference title, the BYU men's swimming and diving team is set to claim their fourth consecutive conference crown this year. The team lost one senior, recruited six new athletes and will be returning 18 letterman from last year's team. Of those returning, eight were All-Conference performers who led the team to the conference championship, winning by more than 200 points.
This year's team is deep in talent and experience with eight seniors leading the team. Christopher Johnson is coming off of an exceptional year winning eight regular season events and placing second in the 200 back at the MWC Championships. He was also named All-MWC First Team in both the 100 and 200 back, the 800 free relay, and the 400 medley relay. The team will look to Johnson to provide leadership and experience as team co-captain.
Returning is senior Gary Tan, a 2000 Sydney Olympian from Singapore, is looking to improve on his exceptional season last year winning 13 individual events and claiming the MWC Championship in the 200 I.M. and placing third in the 200 back. Teammate Randy Belliston, a junior and co-captain, finished the year strong with All-Conference honors by placing second at the MWC Championships in the 400 I.M. and in the 1650-yard freestyle.
Last season the only weakness of the men's team was their depth in the fly and distance events. To fix the problem men's head coach Tim Powers focused his recruiting on fixing those areas. "We are very strong now, and if we train hard and work hard we are going to be really good," said Powers, who is the longest active coach in the BYU athletic department
The freestyle and sprinters for the Cougars remain strong with seniors Billy Betz and Jeff Mason leading the way. Mason won 11 individual events during the regular season and placed second in both the 100 and 200 free at the MWC Championships. Senior teammate Mike Mullen and Mason share the school record in the 50 free with a time of 20.12. Betz, the former school record-holder, placed fifth in the 100 free at the MWC Championships.
Junior Adam Ware, will be returning to head the breaststrokers. Ware placed second in the 200 breaststroke at the MWC Championships and received All-MWC honors. One of the top recruits for this season is Diogo de Olivera Yabe, from Parana, Brazil. Yabe is the Brazilian IM National Champion.
The Cougars received national recognition for their team's academics last season. In a poll that combines a team's overall GPA with its NCAA Finals points, the team received a fourth place national ranking.
Aaron Russell, in his senior season, will lead the way for the men's diving team. Russell is coming off of another extraordinary year, being named All-MWC, All-MWC Academic, second-team All-American, and Academic All-American. Russell also placed third at the MWC championships in the platform event, and was runner-up to former Cougar All-American Justin Wilcock in the 1-M and 3-M events. The diving team will be strengthened with the return of senior Justin Beardall, and Scott Randal who just returned from a church mission in Chile.