After a busy offseason for women swimmers and divers, the team will get back to work this October to continue climbing the ranks in the Pac-12.
During the Olympic Trials for Team USA swimmers, four current and former female Utes competed against the best swimmers in the nation in an attempt to earn a spot in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Head coach Greg Winslow accompanied them to Omaha, Neb., and although no Ute advanced past the preliminaries, the meet was a valuable experience for both Winslow and his swimmers.
With the trials behind them, the team looks to begin anew after a successful first season in the Pac-12. The team as a whole broke 15 school records, some of which have stood for more than two decades.
The women ended last year with a 2-4 record in conference competition but had a 6-5 overall record and placed seventh at the Pac-12 Championships.
“Our women did a great job of stepping up to the occasion,” Winslow said. “We were seventh. The team that was sixth [in the Pac-12] was 12th in the country. They showed a lot of character and a lot of heart.”
Much of that character and heart is going to be around for next season as the team lost only two swimmers to graduation — Sarah Cox and Hannah Caron. In addition to those two seniors, last year’s team consisted of three juniors, with the sophomore and freshman classes boasting six swimmers each. One of the young stars who competed in the Olympic Trials for Utah, Traycie Swartz, is going to be a junior this year.
“We are all going to miss Sarah and Hannah, and you don’t replace the hard work and the friendships,” Winslow said. “But hopefully by committee [these girls] will come in and make up the points in the pool.”
The six scheduled home meets will certainly help the Utes in the coming season, especially since competing in Salt Lake City requires a greater degree of conditioning from swimmers who are accustomed to lower altitudes.
Perhaps the biggest booster to the program has been the offseason addition of two new coaches to the staff. James Winchester and Mason Norman both have extensive résumés of success in and around the pool, with Norman also having competed in this summer’s Olympic Trials in the 100-meter freestyle.
“The more attention and detailed breakdown we can give, the better,” Winslow said. “I feel like we have the best coaching staff in the Pac-12.”
Winslow also said Utah’s female swimmers and divers seem ready to build on their recent success.
“I think we learned a lot just from our eight kids at Olympic Trials,” Winslow said. “We are excited to go do something special next season.”