Following the loss of several seniors last season, the BYU women's swimming and diving team enters the 2000-2001 campaign with a different look in defense of its 2000 Mountain West Conference title. Gone are sprinters Hanalee Hawkins, Valynn Grant and Jann Pickens, as well as distance specialist Kirsten Mason and All-American diver Rachelle Kunkel. However, waiting in the wings are a number of talented competitors determined to bring home the conference championship for a consecutive season. Coach Stan Crump said, "Half our swimmers are brand new, and it is always fun to work with newcomers to the program. We have a lot of talented freshmen, who, if they work hard and stay healthy will be a huge part of our success this season" said coach Stan Crump.
The team's strongest event will undoubtedly be the breaststroke. Senior Jennifer Tasker, a 2000 All-America honoree, continues to improve at a blistering pace since her surprise fourth-place conference finish two years ago and will score well at nationals as well as capture another conference title in her final season as a Cougar. Sophomore Amanda Grant, coming off her first collegiate win ever in the 100 breast MWC title race, will also be a strong presence in this event. Ashlee Terry-Rumfallow, who joined the team last season after a year-long break from the sport scored in the 200 IM MWC finals.
The butterfly event will be hit hard by the loss of Pickens, but senior Jennifer Teerlink has been a consistent swimmer throughout her career at BYU and will look to finish out on a high note by contributing in those events. Teerlink will also compete in the backstroke races, along with solid performer Melissa Belliston, last year's co-captain. Tina Adkinson, a finalist in the 100 back last year, is also expected to continue to perform well. "We graduated many of our sprinters, and will make up for the points lost with some of the newcomers and some different events for a few returners. The girls will come on as the season progresses," Crump said.
Prepared to fill the gaps in the sprinting events is returner Heidi Lietz, a sophomore who made the 100 free conference finals in her freshman season. In the 200 free, junior Amy Lueken is the top returning team member. Lueken returns following a successful sophomore year in which she was named the Mountain West Conference Female Swimmer of the Week after winning her first collegiate races in consecutive meets against Air Force and Wyoming.
BYU landed several key recruits as well who will be expected to make an immediate impact. Late signee Hana Majaj joins the team following her stint in Sydney as a member of the Jordan Olympic team. California native Tamber Covington, a high school All-American and Olympic trials qualifier, will add depth not only in the breaststroke and IM, but the middle distance events as well. Breaststroke phenom Nikki Tadlock, a Logan native, had not lost a race headed into the second half of her senior season and will complement Tasker and Grant well in those events.
On the diving side, the team will certainly feel the effects of two-time All-American Rachelle Kunkel's departure to graduation. Kunkel swept conference competition before landing sixth at nationals, and her presence and leadership will be missed. However, sophomore and team captain Kelli Einfeldt, and Russian transfer Anna Tutunnikova will help pick up the slack and lead the team throughout the season.