Swimming season kicks off in Provo

By By Tony Pizza

By Tony Pizza

The U swimming team is officially back in the pool as it kicked the new season off at the Beehive Relays in Provo Thursday night. Although it is just a warm-up, the meet gives both BYU and Utah a chance to get the season started with a “friendly” competition.

BYU and Utah used to face each other two times a season, but anytime it’s BYU and Utah, things aren’t taken lightly. The teams recently decided to stop opening the season out with a hyped-up race; instead, the two schools chose to have a friendly non-timed warm-up against each other to start off the season.

With the Beehive Relays, the Utes and Cougars still get to compete against each other, just in a less stressful environment. Swimmers still get up for the meet, because both BYU and Utah are two of the top swimming programs in the Mountain West Conference. The plus side is that both teams avoid becoming emotionally drained at the beginning of one of the longer athletic seasons.

The Utes’ trip down to Provo was a good one this year, as many veterans-as well as newcomers-got a chance showcase how they were going to perform this year.

The men, who were picked to finish fourth in the Mountain West Conference this year, picked up six wins in the relays, the women finished with five.

“The guys did a tremendous job tonight and competed very well,” U head coach Mike Litzinger said. “The women are right where we want to be as well and will be ready to get going against Denver.”

The Utes do a quick turnaround as they host the Denver Pioneers for the first of only four home meets tomorrow in a dual meet at the U Natatorium.

The women will have a chance to avenge last year’s only loss of the regular season. The women have lofty expectations this year and the team feels it has an excellent chance to win its fourth-straight regular season MWC championship and its second-straight conference tournament championship.

The men, on the other hand, look to open the season the way they did last year, with a win against the Pioneers.

Denver looks to challenge the Utes again this year, especially in diving and backstroke events, two areas in which coach Litzinger thinks Denver is the strongest.

The swim time has been moved up from noon to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday to accommodate Denver’s flight plans.