Utah Men’s Swim and Dive Falls to No. 2 California in Hard Fought Dual Meet


Jack Gambassi

Junior U of U swimmer, Andrei Ungur, during the swim and dive meet vs The Colo Mesa Mavericks on Jan 23, 2021 at the Ute Natatorium on campus. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Max Lepore, Sports Writer


The University of Utah men’s swim and dive team competed in their second home dual meet of the season on Oct. 22. After taking a tough loss to No. 10 ranked Stanford last week, the Utes again had to go against a top ten nationally ranked team, facing No. 2 California.

The Utes competed in the 200 medley relay, 1000 free, 200 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 200 fly, 50 free, 100 free, 200 back, 200 breast, 500 free, 100 fly, 400 IM and the 400 free relay events. The Utes fell to Cal with a final combined team score of 166-95, but the Utes weren’t without their impressive moments.

The Utah swim and dive head coach, Joe Dykstra, was proud of the way his team performed, acknowledging that they were going against one of the best teams in the country.

“We went hard,” Dykstra said. “They’re the number two ranked team in the country for a reason, but we didn’t back down. We raced really hard and I’m proud of that.”

One of the most notable  moments from the meet for Coach Dykstra was the 100-yard butterfly event. Towards the end of the meet, fans in the stands erupted as 23-year-old Santi Contreras narrowly beat Cal’s Dare Rose by just 0.06 seconds. With a finishing time of 49.19 seconds, Contreras took first place in the event.

“He’s a fifth-year senior,” Coach Dykstra said. “I don’t know that he’s ever won an event in a dual meet before, but as a fifth year senior against a top two team, that was incredible and I’m very proud of him.”

The relay races were also a highlight of the meet for the Utes. In the very first event of the meet, the Utes took second in the 200-yard medley relay, just 0.7 seconds behind Cal’s first place team with a time of 1:29.89.

The team consisting of Andrei Ungur, Jaek Horner, Cooper deRyk and Finn O’Haimhirgin finished off strong, as O’Haimhirgin finished with a time of just 19.77 seconds, the best time of any athlete in the event.

The Utes also had a second place finishing team in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The team, consisting of O’Haimhirgin, Marko Kovacic, Contreras, and Lucas Calderon finished with a time of 3:02.14, less than three seconds behind the first place Cal team. Dykstra was proud of how his relay teams had “improved” from the previous week.

One of the coolest moments of the meet was when 20-year-old Kovacic of the Utes beat Robin Hanson of Cal with a finishing time of 1:38.73 in the 200-yard freestyle.

Dykstra shared, “That was over three seconds faster than [Kovacic] did last week. He got the win over Robin Hanson, an Olympian for Sweden, who beat him last time they faced each other at the European Juniors, so it was a nice little way to get revenge.”

When asked about the team’s goals for the end of the season, Coach Dykstra was right to the point.

“By the end of the season,” Dykstra said, “We want to be top twenty. That’s the goal.”

The Utes’ next meet is in two weeks in Las Vegas against UNLV on Nov. 6. The team is looking forward to finally swimming in a lower altitude for the first time this season.


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