Squad Named Cougar Club Men's Team of the Year

The 2000-2001 season was one of success and accomplishment for the men's swimming and diving team, not only in the pool but out of it as well.

The Cougars went undefeated in dual meet competition for the first time in BYU history and won their second consecutive Mountain West Conference title, beating out UNLV on the final day of competition by just 11.5 points.

The team started the season on the right note, beating rival Utah by 79 points, and did not look back the rest of the year. In its 12 dual meet competitions, BYU beat its opponents by an average of nearly 50 points.

Highlights included going 6-0 in dual meets at the Big West Shootout and finishing in second place behind national power USC at the prestigious Speedo Cup.

"I am very pleased with the season we had," says head coach Tim Powers. "I think it is really an honor and we are excited to be chosen as Men's Team of the Year. This is a great group of kids and you want the best for them."

The team individually accounted for 72 swimming wins in 131 different events and 20 diving wins in 34 different events this season. Gary Tan (November 1), Arunas Savickas (November 8, December 7) and Jeff Mason (January 17) were all named the MWC Swimmer of the Week for their respective performances.

Aaron Russell (November 1, December 7), Justin Wilcock (January 10) and Viraj Patil (January 17) were all named the MWC Diver of the Week. No other school in the conference received as many (eight) Athlete of the Week honors.

At the 2001 MWC Championships, the Cougars trailed UNLV by 8.5 points going into the final day of competition. Sweeping the top three spots in the 200-backstroke event and the platform diving event, coupled with an important second-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay, gave the team the needed points to repeat as conference champions.

Individual honors went to Justin Wilcock and Nick Tobler. Wilcock was named the MWC Diver of the Year, and Tobler was honored as Freshman of the Year.

The swimming and diving team was ranked as high as No. 15 in the nation and finished the year ranked No. 19. Senior All-American and Olympian Arunas Savickas finished the season with his sixth All-America citation, placing 14th in the 200 freestyle event at the 2001 NCAA Championships, making him the only male swimmer in BYU history to be named All-American each of his four years.

Sophomore Aaron Russell was named second team All-America for the second consecutive year with his 13th-place finish on the one-meter springboard. BYU tied for 30th-place nationally at the 2001 NCAA Championships, improving on last year's tie for 33rd place.

Not only did the team have a successful year in the pool; they had an even more successful year in the classroom. According to the College Swimming Coaches Association of America's academic rankings, the team's 3.35 GPA was the best in the nation among Division I swimming programs. Wilcock was also recently named to the Verizon Academic All-America Second Team and the Verizon Academic All-District VIII team.

"One of the things we try to stress is academics and to take pride in that," says Powers. "We emphasize excellence in the classroom as well as in the pool and we recruit kids like that. These student athletes represent BYU in a way that alumni and fans want to be represented."