Off to a flying start (Swimming)

Head coach Michael Litzinger couldn’t have drawn it up any better.

Day one of the Mountain West Conference Swimming Championships went according to plan at the Oklahoma City Aquatic Center Wednesday night, with both the Ute men and women taking the overall lead in team standings.

“We’re very pleased,” Litzinger said. “Since I’ve been at Utah, neither the men or women have been in first after the first day of this event.”

The men lead BYU by 10 points (104-94) and the women hold an 11-point edge (105-94) over the Cougars.

“It’s a great accomplishment, and even though we’ve still got a long way to go, it was a blast to watch,” Litzinger said.

The Ute women set a new conference record in the 200-medley relay with a time of 1:42.21. Leah Jensen, Amber Walter, Jennifer Fredsall, and Amy Barefield were on the record-setting team, which fended off the feisty Cougars for first.

Junior Kelsey Patterson topped TCU’s Kelly Seely in the one-meter dive for the women, and senior Sterling Richards blew away the competition in his final conference meet with a winning final score of 318.55 for the men.

Freshman diver Anna Braszkewiecz finished in eighth, as did junior Damion Brown.

In the 800 free, the U’s worst relay event, a team of Alison McInturff, Shannon McQueen, Adrienne Coburn, and Rachael Curci finished a solid second, and the men’s squad managed fourth while setting a new Ute record that had stood since 1984.

After the conclusion of Wednesday night’s action the Ute women received their third consecutive regular season Mountain West Championship trophy.

Tonight’s finals include the men’s and women’s 500-yard freestyle, 200-yard individual medley, 50-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle relay, and the men’s three-meter springboard.

Rachael Curci is the U’s best hope in the 500 free, having turned in the third-best time in the conference this season.

Senior Jonathan Larsen will be looking to upset BYU standout Brett Allen in the 50 free, and potentially secure a qualifying time in the event for the NCAA Championships.

Amber Walter is the favorite in the 50 free on the women’s side, and has dominated in the event all season. Unlike Larsen, who specializes in the 100 free, this is Walter’s best chance at qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Freshman Jennifer Fredsall and senior Amy Barefield could also contend in the event.

There is little doubt that the Ute women will glide to victory in the 200 free, regularly finishing almost 1 seconds faster than anybody else in the conference this season. The Ute men have a strong team as well and should reach the podium.

Sterling Richards owns the best score in the conference this year on the three-meter springboard (380.83), and has won the conference title the last two years.