A big weekend awaits the University of Utah Swim and Dive team as it will take on Stanford on Friday, Oct. 20 before hosting an alumni event the following day, while some members of the team head to California to participate in the USA Swimming College Challenge.
“We’ve got a lot going on,” said head coach Joe Dykstra. “We’ve got Stanford here on Friday afternoon. We’ve got our huge alumni event on Saturday morning — we’re expecting about 200 alumni coming back for this weekend — and then I’ve got to go down right after that to LA for the Pac-12 All-Stars verses U.S. National Team. So [it’s] three amazing events, a really good celebration of our sport, which is exciting.”
Hosting Stanford this weekend will bring in a lot of talent to the Ute Natatorium, especially considering that Stanford is the reigning Pac-12 Champions. The Cardinal, however, will be without Olympic medal winner sophomore Katie Ledecky as she will be participating in the USA Swimming College Challenge.
“It’ll be interesting,” said freshman Sara McClendon. “I’ll see how it goes, hopefully it goes well. I just hope I can swim well for my team, score some points and make my coaches and my teammates proud.”
Dykstra is looking forward to his team hosting the Cardinal, and he is looking forward to everything his team will get to be a part of over the weekend.
“[The] Stanford dual should be good, both teams will be without members of the All-Star teams, a little luster comes off the top of the meet, but it will still be a lot of good swimmers going at it,” Dykstra said. “Their women are No. 1 and even without a couple of their superstars they might still be No. 1. So, it’s going to be a great challenge for us. I just couldn’t be more excited for all of our kids to experience everything that’s going on this weekend.”
On the men’s side of things, the Utes will be without seniors Jack Burton and Paul Unger, as well as juniors Austin Phillips and Genevieve Robertson. Those four Utes will be away representing Utah and the Pac-12 at the USA college challenge, but the Utes will still have a lot of talent in the pool against Stanford. Freshman Felix Chiun and junior Daniel McArthur will be looked to make an impact in the water, as they both took second in their events against California last week.
As for the woman, Utah is loaded with freshman talent, and it will show that off on Friday. McClendon beat out swimmers on the No. 2 ranked Cal team last week to earn a first place finish in the 1000-yard freestyle. Freshman Mandy Gebhart followed her teammate to finish in second place. Emma Broome, another freshman, came in first as well, this time in the 100-yard backstroke.
“Once you know you can do it, it makes it way easier,” McClendon said. “I just hope it goes the same way this weekend. I’m just trying not to overthink things and just have fun, just compete – it’s the easiest way to take it.”