Men’s Swim Competes in Pac-12 Championships


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


Just a week after the dive and women’s swim team competed in the Pac-12 Championships, Utah’s men’s team took a trip to Federal Way, Washington to do the same from Wednesday, March 2 to Saturday, March 5. In a long season full of health and safety cancellations, emerging athletes, personal records, and so much more, the Utes were prepared to leave it all in the pool at Weyerhaeuser King Aquatic Center.

Day 1

The Utes wasted no time in Washington making their presence be felt, as their 200-medley team consisting of Andrei Ungur, Jaek Horner, Cooper deRyk and Finn O’Haimhirgin earned a time of 1:23.87, good for a new all-time school record, which was previously set just last year at the NCAA Championships.

Following the valiant effort by the 200-medley team, Marko Kovacic, Ben Waterman, Noah Carlson and O’Haimhirgin competed in the 800 free relay, also setting a season-best time of 6:26.23, which helped them earn sixth place.

At the end of the first day of competition, the Utes were in second place with a total of 183 points, just behind first-place Stanford who had 207 points.

Day 2

After the two impressive performances on Wednesday, the Utes competed in the second day of the Pac-12 Championships.

To begin finals races, junior Nick Becker earned a time of 4:24.26, as he competed in the 500 free, good for 23rd place overall.

Following Becker’s placement, sophomore Ryan Garstang was able to set his own personal-best of 1:48.92 in the prelims for the 200 IM, and then earned 24th with a time of 1:50.06.

To finish off the second night of competition, O’Haimhirgin continued his strong week with an 18th-place finish in the 50 free. The junior who has had so many impressive performances this season earned a time of 19.70 to add to his resume.

Day 3

After two fairly short days of competition, the Utes had plenty of work to do Friday night as the conference championships began to intensify.

The Utes were able to set two school records on Friday night, both in the 400-medley relay and the and the 100 breast.

In the relay, which concluded the night of competition for the Utes, Ungur, Horner, Waterman and O’Haimhirgin raced with a time of 3:07.29, just barely topping the old record from the 2020 Pac-12 Championships by just 0.2 seconds.

Impressively enough, Horner also set the 100 breast record, with an NCAA B and personal-best time of 52.69 seconds. The previous record was held by Andrew Britton with a time of 52.77 seconds at 2021’s Pac-12 Championships.

Waterman and Santiago Contreras also competed in the 100 fly B final. Waterman finished in 14th place with a time of 46.79 seconds while Contreras was one place behind in 15th with a time of 47.15

In the 400 IM, Jackson Cunningham finished 16th place in the B final with a time of 3:48.62, while Baylor Lewis, a freshman, earned a personal-record of 3:51.47.

Besides being a part of the record-setting relay team, Ungur also finished in the highest-place for any Ute of the night. In the 100 back, he earned eighth place with a time of 46.13 seconds while JP Hynes competed in the prelims and earned a time of 47.18.

Garstang also competed in the action-packed Friday night, earning another personal-best in Championship week, this time in the 100 back with a time of 48.09. Kovacic also earned a 21st place finish in the 200 free C final with a time of 1:36.76.

Day 4

In the final night of the Championships, the Utes came together to continue to have personal and season-best performances. To begin, Becker competed in the 1650 free, earning 18th place with his season-best time of 15:31.16. Cunningham was just one spot behind in 19th place with a time of 15:33.01, with Micah Ginoza and Becker finishing behind him.

Garstang continued his championship-level performance in the Championships, earning a time of 1:46.49 and 18th place in the 200 back. Meanwhile, Preston Planells earned 18th place in the prelims with his season-best time of 1:45.68.

The 200 back also saw Cunningham set a personal-best time of 1:46.98 while his teammate Holden Ellsworth earned his own season-best time of 1:47.85.

O’Haimhirgin, a dominant performer all season, earned a personal best in the 100 free race, with a time of 43.20 in the prelims, followed with a 43.13 (replacing the just set record) to earn 18th overall.

Horner, after his incredible championship week, earned 18th in the 200-breat with an NCAAB cut of 1:57.86.

In the 200 fly, Waterman and Kovacic both finished strong. Waterman earned 17th place with a time of 1:45.16 while Kovacic finished in 20th place with his own personal-best of 1:46.03.

To finish up the night, and the Pac-12 Championships, Utah’s incredible relay team of Ungur, Horner, Waterman, and Carlson competed in the 400 free relay, finishing with a time of 2:56.18. With so many dominant performances coming from Utah’s relay teams throughout the year, it would only make sense to finish off Championship weekend with this group.

In Conclusion

While Utah had so many season, personal, and even school records throughout championship week, they ended up finishing in sixth place with a final score of 264. California took home the victory, with a final score of 853.5. They were followed by Stanford (760), Arizona State (652), USC (449), and Arizona (423.5).

While the men’s swim team and coach Joe Dykstra may not have gotten quite the results they were hoping for, there was no doubt that the Utes competed to the best of their ability and did everything they could to represent their school. The amount of records helps display this, as all of Utah’s athletes never gave up, and gave it their all in the pool for the Pac-12 Championships.


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