The BYU women's swimming and diving team is the three-time defending Mountain West Conference Champion going into the 2002-2003 season, and ready to defend their title. With another strong recruiting class and 20 returning athletes from last year's squad, including MWC champion and NCAA finalist Jamie Lambert, the Cougars appear solid in every event.
For the fourth consecutive year the Cougars have been selected by league coaches to win the conference title. "I expect that we will contend and that we have a chance to win our conference," said head coach Stan Crump.
"We have a chance of being a pretty good team," said Crump. "We have improved in some areas like the middle distance freestyle, and we should still be competitive in our sprints."
Leading the team will be seniors Cortnee Adams, Tamber Covington, Nichole Burrows and Amanda Grant. Adams, a four time All-American, won 17 individual events during the season last year, including the 100 free at the Speedo Cup, and will provide the strength for Cougars in the sprints. Grant, a first-team All-MWC, and Academic All-MWC last season in the breaststroke, backstroke, 200 medley and 400 free relays, will provide much of the leadership for this year's squad as team captain.
BYU looks to continue their domination in the breaststroke event after winning both events last year at the MWC Championships, including a sweep of the 200 breaststroke. Covington is the 2002 MWC Champion in the 200-yard breaststroke and was the runner-up to Lambert in the 100-yard breaststroke, earning first-team All-MWC honors for both events. Lambert, who won the 100-yard breaststroke at the MWC Championships, and qualified for the NCAA Championships where she placed 37th, will provide experience and depth to a talented pool of breaststrokers.
Burrows will lead the backstrokers and help out in the sprints. At the MWC Championships she placed third in the 100 backstroke, third in the 50 free and received first-team MWC honors. Her ability to win in multiple events gives the Cougars the
"Breaststroke and backstroke should be great events for us and we are better in the middle distance than we have been in the past. That should make the 800-freestyle relay better than it has been in quit a while," Crump said.
The Cougars are looking to improve in the middle and distance freestyles. Returning to the event is sophomore Amy Garrick and junior Rachel Mason who also swims the 400 I.M. and received second team MWC honors. Look for freshman Shannon Bloom to make an impact in the middle distance freestyle events. Bloom is a former CIF champion and holds several high school records.
Senior Kelli Einfeldt will lead the women's diving, last season she won 15 individual events and received second-team MWC honors. Coach Keith Russell said he expects Einfeldt to make the NCAA finals this year.