(Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Head coach Stan Crump began the year cautiously optimistic of his team's chances for a fifth consecutive Mountain West Conference championship. However, the intangibles of injuries and sickness, that all coaches fear, caught up with the 25th year coach in 2004-2005. Despite the set backs, the Cougars still placed second at the Mountain West Conference championships, the first time in MWC history that BYU has not taken home the crown.
"We had the ability to win," Crump said. "We've been lucky to avoid injuries, but this year it just seemed that the injuries caught up with us."
The Cougars began the season with expectations of winning another conference championships and where named No. 1 in the conference in preseason polls. The team's first look at competition came against Utah in the annual Beehive relays.
The women led the Utes, but were beaten to the wall in the final event. The finish resulted in a tie between the two squads. The women benefited from the points that were garnered from sweeping both the 1-M and 3-M diving competitions.
Following the final preseason competition, the women began the first regular season meets, competing against New Mexico, San Diego State and Northern Arizona. The Cougars swept all the competitors posting a 169-55 vs. SDSU, 154-91 vs. NAU and 137-106 vs. UNM. The meet featured strong swims from BYU freshmen, including victories for U-Nice Chan (1000 free and 200 fly) and Jamie Bloom (200 breast).
BYU also posted wins in the 200 and 500 free behind the swimming of sophomore Brittany Davis and the 200 back when junior Natasha Schlup placed first.
The foursome of Chan, Bloom, Davis and Schlup would pick up individual wins again heading into the second meet of the season for the Cougars. BYU picked up the win at the Lobo Invitational competing against UNM, SDSU, NAU and New Mexico State.
Chan picked up a win in the 200 fly, Bloom in the 200 breast, Schlup in the 200 back and Davis in the 500 free and 100 back. Davis was named MWC swimmer of the week from her performance over the three-day span.
The women continued the momentum gained from the early wins during the year and crushed San Diego State 144-94 in the next meet of the season. The freshmen class of BYU continued to shine with Chan (200 free and 100 fly), Angela Goodson (200 IM) and Angela Nelson (3-meter) picking up individual victories.
Upper-classman also continued to shine with Davis winning her third straight victory in the 500 free. Schlup pick up a win in the 100 back and teammate Hannah Palmer touching the wall first in the 50 free. Junior Aubrey Low also dove to a first place finish on the 1-meter springboard.
The Cougars suffered their first loss on the season when they faced the Rebels of UNLV. Despite the loss Chan, Davis and Bloom continued to have impressing seasons. Chan swam to victory in the 200 fly and 1000 free, Davis in the 200 and 500 free and Bloom picked up her second first-place finish in the 200 breast. BYU divers also found success against the Rebels with Low and Nelson claiming the first and second place spots in the 3-meter competition.
The women then traveled to Long Beach, California to compete in the Annual Speedo Cup. The Cougars swam to a sixth place finish with Davis and Chan placing fourth and tenth in the 500 free.
The swimmers got a break when the divers hosted the BYU diving invite against Utah and UNLV with impressive results. Low claimed the top spot in the platform while freshmen Nelson and Kristin Pitt placed first on the 3-meter and 1-meter boards.
The team then trained during the rest of December and returned to the pools to face Colorado State in Fort Collins. The Cougars failed to place first in only three events and swam to an easy 169-131 victory over the Rams. Davis, Chan and Bloom continued their streaks with wins in the 100, 200 and 500 free (Davis); the 1000 free and 200 fly (Chan); and 200 breast (Bloom).
The women also picked up victories in the 50 free when Palmer touched the wall at 24.58. Schlup swept the backstroke competitions with wins in both the 100 and 200 back. Low and Nelson rounded out the first-place points with wins on the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards.
The Cougars once again returned home and swam against Mountain West Conference foes Air Force and Wyoming on back-to-back days in Provo. The women once again dominated both teams, picking up the win against the Falcons 154-74 and the Cowgirls 151.5-91.5.
BYU posted top scores or times in all 13 events against Air Force and the final score did not reflect the points garnered from diving and the final two events of the evening. Davis picked up a win in the 1000 free with teammates Chan (200 and 500), Palmer (50) and junior Shannon Bloom (100), capturing individual victories in the other freestyle events.
Three freshman also placed first in other events: Tara Bradshaw in the 200 IM, Angela Goodson and Nelson on the 1- and 3-meter springboard. The women continued their strong swimming against Wyoming on senior night in Provo with nine first place finishes.
Nelson repeated on the 1- and 3-meter boards, picking up wins on both apparatus. Bradshaw continued to swim well and captured a win in the 400 IM while teammate Chan picked up her second win in the 1000 free on the season. Jamie Bloom continued the freshmen success with a first-place finish in the 100 breast.
Not to be outdone by the freshmen, sophomores Davis and Palmer captured wins in the 200 free and 50 free. The women's relay teams repeated the performance of the night before by each placing first.
Following the impressive performances against Air Force and Wyoming, the women traveled to the University of Utah with a conference title at stake. The Utes were undefeated in conference and a loss against the Cougars would split the regular season title between the two schools.
Utah surprised the Cougars by showing up in skin suits and swam away with the victory and outright regular season conference title. Jamie Bloom's win in the 200 breast and Nelson's first-place outcome on the 1-meter springboard were the lone top finishes. However, the Cougars would use the loss as motivation heading into the MWC Championships three weeks later.
The women would lead in the Championships until the final night of competition when UNLV scored 49 points compared to BYU's 17 in the 100 free. That event would prove to be the turning point in the championships.
Despite the outcome, the Cougars maintained their dominance in the 100 breast, an event that has been won by BYU each of the past five years. Senior Melanie Grant swam to an individual victory in the event and followed it up with a second place finish in the 200 breast. Davis repeated as MWC champion in the 500 free and 200 back and placed second in the 200 free, despite being hospitalized for kidney stones the week before.
Davis's times in the 200 back, 200 and 500 free were good enough for the sophomore to qualify for the NCAA championships for the second straight year. While at the championships Davis did not swim in the 500 free, focusing instead on the 200 back and 200 free events.