Swim & Dive: Love is in the Water

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Utah swimmer Megan Kawaguchi nside the University of Utah's Natorium February 2, 2017. Michael Adam Fondren for The Daily Utah Chronicle.

It’s that time of year again. Grocery stores and local boutiques have had the holiday decorations displayed since the day after Christmas. The aisles at the store are covered with Sweethearts, stuffed animals with hearts, and chocolates galore. Cheesy, lovey-dovey cards are handed out while everyone anticipates the day they can show appreciation for their partner. There are four types of people during Valentine’s Day: single and loving it, single and hating it, a couple without plans, and a dynamic swim couple with some pretty spectacular plans to go to Ruth’s Chris.

This University of Utah swim couple is none other than junior Megan Kawaguchi and junior Jack Burton. This competitively fun couple first began as friendly teammates. Eventually, something sparked outside of the pool that ignited these two jokesters to form a strong relationship that has lasted for over a year. The Ute love story all start when Kawaguchi and Burton first began exploring their options for college.

Kawaguchi is from Normandy Park, Washington, and she has been swimming competitively since she was six years old. When it came to looking at colleges, Utah recruited Kawaguchi for her swimming talents.

“I took a couple recruiting trips to different places,” Kawaguchi said. “As soon as I stepped onto campus at the University of Utah I knew this was the place for me. I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I loved the team, and I loved the coaches. It was a pretty easy decision.”

Burton is from Ringwood, England, and he began swimming competitively when he was nine years old. He was inspired by his older brother who had begun swimming at an early age.

Utah swimmers Megan Kawaguchi and Jack Burton inside the University of Utah’s Natorium February 2, 2017. Michael Adam Fondren for The Daily Utah Chronicle.

“I wasn’t very good [at swimming] but I still joined the local swim team anyway just because my brother did,” Burton said.

Burton was also recruited by Utah. Unable to make the trip to explore the campus, he still committed to swimming as a Ute.

“I liked the idea that they were a part of the Pac-12, and that they were this big ‘up and coming’ school,” Burton said.

A year passed, transitioning from being just teammates to being a couple on the swim team together. To an outsider, it may seem like it would be hard to date someone who is on the same collegiate team. However, for Burton and Kawaguchi nothing has changed.

“For something that is so time consuming it is nice to have someone who understands your time commitments as well,” Burton said.

Burton and Kawaguchi have a lot of fun together on the pool deck. During practices you can constantly see them goofing around together and competing against each other. It’s a neck and neck race between the two. Although they may swim different strokes, Kawaguchi the backstroke and Burton the breaststroke, they both swim the 100 and 200 and are usually very close in times, almost to the tenth.

“I have a fun time being competitive towards him,” Kawaguchi said. “We’re both super competitive, so it’s really fun.”

“It’s nice being able to train with her, because she’s a fun and competitive person to train with,” Burton said.

During the 2015-16 season, Burton took third place at the Art Adamson Invitational in the 100 breast with a time of 53.93, and he took second in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 1:56.80. Against USC he placed second in the 100 breaststroke (55.44). He placed third against Stanford 100 breaststroke (56.49) and placed second in the 200 breaststroke (2:02.97).

Kawaguchi took 17th at the Pac-12 Championships in the 200 backstroke (1:56.85), and she took 19th in the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:58.11. She helped contribute to a win in the 200 medley race team at Washington State. She came in third place against Cal in the 100 backstroke (57.06) and 200 backstroke (2:08.04).

With the 2016-17 season dwindling to an end Burton and Kawaguchi have specific goals they hope to accomplish.

“I’m hoping to get onto NCAA and make the National Championship and hopefully do well there,” Burton said.

“[I’m] making sure that I’m really positive and that I just use good, positive energy to get me through the end of the season,” Kawaguchi said. “I’m most excited to see what we’re going to do as a whole women’s team than just me individually.”

m.lopez@dailyutahchronicle.com

@mk_lopez02

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