Swim team falls short of first-place goals.

By Paige Fieldsted, Staff Writer

The Utah swimming and diving teams have had one focus all season: taking first at the Mountain West Conference championships. It wasn’t meant to be.

After the four-day meet championships, the women’s team finished No. 4, while the men finished No. 6 for the second year in a row.

“If winning a championship were easy, everyone would do it all the time,” said head coach Greg Winslow. “I feel like we are a really young team, but I don’t think we lived up to our promise.”

Freshman Whitney Lopus was the only Ute to win an individual championship.

Lopus placed first in both the 100- and 200-yard butterfly, breaking the MWC records in each event.

Several other freshmen placed second in their events throughout the meet.

“I was really, really excited about how well both our freshmen men and women did,” Winslow said.

Despite being unable to finish as high as they would’ve liked, Winslow still feels like the team had a successful season.

Throughout the year, the team swam tired and trained through almost all of their dual meets in order to prepare their bodies for the championships.

“That is something we definitely won’t change,” Winslow said. “The kids swam really well, and we showed a lot of promise, but it’s more than just going back and forth in the pool.”

Utes finish 4th, 6th at MWC championships

Leadership is something the Utes have been lacking in the pool most of the season and part of the reason Utah wasn’t able to step up to the challenge of the championships.

“We’ve just got to find athletes and leadership,” Winslow said. “I can’t be in the pool swimming and we need to find that leadership.”

Winslow, who is in his second year as the Utah head coach, said success will come as the team rebuilds and buys into the system he has set up.

“I think that what you are doing when you are trying to take over a program and rebuild it is a challenge in itself,” he said. “We had a whole new staff this year so it’s a whole rebuilding process.”

Utah will get very little rest after the four-day meet as it will be back in the pool Tuesday to begin preparations for next year.

Winslow said a lot of what will change for the upcoming year is how he and the rest of his staff interact with the athletes.

“I think I was a little bit too soft in letting the team get away with things,” Winslow said. “A lot of what will change is just making sure we aren’t cutting corners but are getting the job done, and not trying to be best friends with the kids, but someone they can respect and look to for guidance.”

The Utes will know later in the week if any of their swimmers will be invited to the NCAA championships to be held March 19 to March 21.

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