The royalty of the pool

It was double the pleasure at the Natatorium Friday evening as the U men’s and women’s swim teams defeated BYU.

The women (9-0, 7-0 MWC) won their first ever outright conference title, knocking off the Cougars 155-88.

In their last appearance at the Natatorium, seniors Katie Hathaway, Juliete Johnson, Marta Stepanczuk, Loren Sweny, Jamie Trapp and Melissa Young were honored by the capacity crowd.

The victory was extra sweet for the U women, as they had to settle for a tie atop the standings last season.

“We shared the title last year with Colorado State, and our goal this year was to win it outright,” Ute coach Mike Litzinger said, praising his women’s team. “I can’t think of a better way to send off our seniors than a win over BYU and a MWC title.”

The men earned a share of the MWC title, beating BYU 135-108, sending seniors Jorge Amorim, Evan Castro, Matan Ratz and Cody Rempfer out winners in their final home meet.

“To have our men falter at the beginning of the year and come back and earn a share of the MWC title is tremendous,” Litzinger said.

The U women never trailed, jumping on the Cougars early. The Utes got out to a 15-2 lead, after taking first and second in the 400 medley relay.

Stepanczuk, Rachael Curci and Loren Sweny swept the 1000 free, followed up by Alison McInturff’s first-place finish in the 200 free, giving the Utes a commanding 43-12 lead.

The 50 free was next, with the Utes’ Amy Barefield and Amber Walker finishing first and third. The Utes returned to their sweeping form in the 200-IM, as Trapp, Adrienne Coburn and Meghan Demchuk took the top three spots.

Following a diving break, the women extended their lead. Freshman Michelle Blair took home first in the 200 fly, and McInturff and Young took home first and second in the 100 free. Marissa Martin won the 200 back and Stepanczuk picked up another victory, this time in the 500 free.

The men also struck quickly, as they won the 400 medley relay. Eric Jorgensen put the Utes in front 23-13, with a victory in the 1000 free.

BYU would hang tough, trimming the lead to 29-26. But the Cougars’ momentum would not continue, as the U men strung together nine straight event wins.

Jonathan Larsen won the 50 free, followed by Rempfer and Nick Galen taking first and second respectively in the 200 individual medley.

Rempfer turned right around and won the 200 fly, putting the Utes up 64-48. Larsen notched another victory of his own, winning the 100 free, and Andrew Cole won the 200 back.

Jorgensen kept the freestyle domination going, taking first in the 500 free.

Following the last diving break, Castro came from behind at the last second to win the 200 breast, and the 400 freestyle relay team finished second, giving the Ute men their first conquest of BYU in nine years.

The U divers had success as well. Sterling Richards placed first in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events, and Kelsey Patterson finished first in the 3-meter and second in the 1-meter.

Up next for the swim teams is the MWC Championships, Feb. 23-26 in Oklahoma City.

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