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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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It’s all going swimmingly

The Ute men and women’s swimming teams hit the road today to face Wyoming (men: 0-2 Mountain West Conference, women: 2-3 MWC) before traveling to Colorado Springs to take on the Air Force Academy (men: 6-3-1, 1-1 MWC, women: 7-7, 2-3 MWC) Saturday afternoon.

The Ute divers will head straight for Colorado to take part in the Air Force Diving Invitational on both Friday and Saturday.

With the conference championships approaching in mid-February, here’s a look at the outlook for the 2005-2006 Ute swimming and diving team in each event.

Men’s Team

The men’s squad (3-1, 1-1 MWC) experienced a drastic overhaul this season, but steady senior leadership and a strong showing from the youth movement has kept it afloat in 2006.

“We have a lot of young swimmers on the men’s side,” head coach Michael Litzinger said. “Athletes take longer in men’s swimming to make a difference, and this team will continue to grow as they gain experience.”

Senior swimmer Jonathan Larsen and senior diver Sterling Richards have excelled as top performers in their respective disciplines.

“The team rallies around those two,” Litzinger said. “We’re not as talented as last year, and those guys have carried us.”

Larsen said he hasn’t had to do anything more than lead by example.

“I really didn’t have to say that much,” Larsen said. “Sure, guys look up to me after being here for four years, but I haven’t had to give them much advice to get them going.”


Larsen leads the way for the Utes over the short distances, while junior Jeremy Clark and freshman Adam Oliver have carried the squad over the middle distances.

“We’ve got one of the top three freestyle groups in the conference,” Litzinger said. “They carry a lot of weight for us.”

Larsen boasts the best 100 free time in the conference this year (at 44.07, nearly a second better than his closest competitor) and also has the second best time in the 50 free (20.35).

Both Clark and Oliver registered top ten MWC times in the 200, 500, 1,000, and 1,650 free events.


A relative weakness for the Ute team, junior Andrew Cole has been huge for a young corps of backstrokers.

“Andrew Cole is head and shoulders our best,” Litzinger said. “He should be in the hunt to win the conference championship.”

Junior David Johnson has been a pleasant surprise for the Utes as well.

“He returned from a mission and got back to good form a lot faster than we expected,” Litzinger said.


Another thin area for the Utes, Litzinger has relied heavily on sophomore Michel DeCarolis in the breaststroke events.

“He’s filling the biggest hole we’ve had this year,” Litzinger said. “It’s obviously an area in which we’re looking to improve.”

DeCarolis has the sixth-best 200 breast time in the conference, as well as the seventh-best time in the 100 breast.


“They’re young,” Litzinger said. “They really represent our next wave. They’ve been tested a lot this year, and sometimes they’ve responded well, sometimes not so much.”

Larsen has the best Ute time in the 100 fly (50.91, fifth in MWC), while sophomore Andrew Brown has been solid in both fly events (eighth in MWC in 100, 10th in 200).

Individual Medley

“We don’t have any medley specialists on the men’s side,” Litzinger said. “We do have a couple of ‘tweeners’ that have done a good job of filling this hole for us.”

One of those, backstroke specialist Andrew Cole, recorded the fifth best conference time in the 200 IM, while sophomore Nick Philpot provides much-needed depth in the 400.


While it doesn’t look as though the Utes will have much of a chance to compete for the 800 free, 200 IM and 400 IM titles, the Utes will try to overcome top-ranked BYU in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays for the conference crown.


Sterling Richards paces the conference with top scores in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events. Also posting top-10 conference marks were juniors Damien Brown and Andrew Jones, while senior Jacob Jewett added another top-10 on the 3-meter board.

“We’ve got the best divers in the league,” Litzinger said. “We got a new coach this year (Katie Beth Bryant) who has done a great job of improving our team. All five divers have a chance at conference.”

Women’s Team

The defending conference champions for the past two seasons, the women’s squad has also survived the loss of some key senior performers from 2005 to run off a perfect conference record (5-0 MWC, 6-1 overall).

“It’s pretty special to be a part of this team,” Litzinger said. “It’s the strongest group we’ve had by far. We weren’t even in this league three years ago. It seems like every class I’ve had has added more and more in terms of talent.”

Litzinger thinks his current group is in great shape for postseason.

“We’re hitting our stride right now. We have quality and depth throughout every event, and we should be in good shape for the conference meet.”


Mountain West Conference Swimmer of the Week Amber Walter has been outstanding in the 50 and the 100, with the best conference scores this season in both.

Freshmen Jennifer Fredsall and Shannon McQueen have fared well in their rookie campaigns, taking some of the pressure off captain Amy Barefield.

“Amy has really been through the ringer for four years here,” Litzinger said. “It’s nice to have the depth to give her some support.”

The depth continues in the middle distance events, where junior Rachael Curci has dominated in the 500, 1000, and 1650 free.


McQueen has been a huge addition for the U in this event and will compete for titles in the 100 and 200 back. Junior Marissa Martin and senior Leah Jensen have also given Litzinger steady performances.

“We really battle it out on backstroke,” Litzinger said. “All three of our top swimmers compete for wins each week. It’s a nice problem to have.”


Walter, a triple-threat (free, breast, fly) is the conference’s best swimmer in the 100 breast. After her, however, the drop-off is rather severe. Litzinger is hoping that sophomore Adrienne Coburn will help in that regard.

“She’s just getting back into form after being injured all fall,” he said. “We’re expecting big things from her.”


Freshman Fredsall really stands out in this event. “Jennifer’s definitely someone to keep an eye on in the future,” Litzinger said.

Fredsall has the top conference time in the 100 fly, while three other Utes have had top ten scores. The U also has three swimmers in the top ten of the 200 fly (with Fredsall at second).

Individual Medley

Coburn and McQueen are the medley “standouts.” Though the Utes are deep enough to field an ultra competitive relay medley team, they do not have any individual conference title hopefuls.


The Utes could end up being favorites at the conference meet in all five relay events. They have already posted the top times this year in four of the five. In both the 400 free and the 400 medley relays the U even has an extra (or “B”) team with a top-four time.


Kelsey Patterson, a six-time winner of the Diver of the Week award, is the top diver in the MWC on the 1-meter board and is ranked fourth on the 3-meter.

Freshman Anna Braszkiewicz from Warsaw, Poland, has had a strong showing in her first year with the program.

Championship Outlook

Before they start looking too far ahead, the Utes will take on rivals BYU in Provo (Feb. 2, 6 p.m.) next week. They will then take a two-week break until the conference championships begin in Oklahoma City, Okla. (Feb. 15-17).

“I just hope everyone swims their fastest,” Amy Barefield said of the conference meet. “I have a lot of pride in this team, and I’m real excited to see how it turns out.”

While the women are expected to compete for titles in numerous events, the bulk of a young men’s
squad will just be looking to soak in the experience.

“It’s going to be an eye-opener for them,” Larsen said.

It’s possible that the season will extend beyond the MWC Championships for a few select Utes. Litzinger said he expects swimmers Walter and Fredsall to join Larsen at the NCAA Championships in Georgia this March. All three will be trying to cut down their times over the next three weeks while crossing their fingers in the hopes of qualifying.

“They have a great chance,” Litzinger said.

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