Swim and dive: The men’s team carries strong season into Pac-12’s

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After losing only one meet the entire season, the Utes look to keep that momentum going into the Pac-12 swimming championships held in Washington this weekend.

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That one loss came in Utah’s last home meet of the year against nationally-ranked USC. Even though the meet didn’t have the outcome the team wanted, everyone was still pleased with how they swam that day.

Now that the championships are less than a week away, senior captain Alex Fernandez believes that the team’s attitude is vital leading up to the meet.

“[Attitude’s] super important,” he said. “If you have a first bad day and it doesn’t go as well as you planned, your meet can end right there. You know, keep your head up.”

Fernandez said that this attitude will give them an edge as they swim against some of the top swimmers in the country.

Head coach Joe Dykstra said that he doesn’t have any concerns for his team heading in, saying that he is happy with where the team is at mentally and physically.

“I’m pretty confident in our men’s team right now,” Dykstra said. “We’ve been performing well all year. No meet is going to go perfect. We’re going to have some rough swims and things like that. It’s impossible to have a meet where you don’t have that, but I’m as confident as I’ve ever been going into a conference meet with the team.”

Utah has wins this season over teams like Arizona and Denver, and also won Intermountain Shootout earlier this season. Dykstra said that while the team has plenty of youth, the experienced upper classmen have helped guide them through this season as they look for a strong finish.

“If there is one word I’d use to describe them, it’s competitive,” Dykstra said. “They’re internally very competitive with each other. They’ve been extremely competitive throughout the season.”

While nerves are sure to be a factor in a meet like this, the team can’t focus on them. Dykstra mentioned how the swimmers need to focus on the preparation and the execution of their races, not the outcome. The things that the head coach wants them to be focusing are things like warm ups, breakouts and turns – the technical stuff.

In turn, Dykstra hopes that his team will be sharper come race day.

Fernandez said that his coaches have prepared the team well, but that everyone is different when it comes to preparation.

“Some people like to psyche themselves up everyday, like watching some videos,” he said. “I think somehere in between is enough. You don’t want to get too nervous…You don’t want to get too comfortable.”

Just like with the women’s meet, Dykstra isn’t focused so much on the overall team outcome, but rather qualifying for the NCAA Championships.

“Everybody is just focused on qualifying for nationals,” Dykstra said. “Our approach is on NCAA’s first and [Pac-12 championship] is secondary.”

The four-day meet will begin on Wednesday and go through the weekend, finishing up on Saturday.

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