Utah Men’s Swim and Dive Falls to USC Despite Group of Skillful Performances


Jack Gambassi

A University of Utah swimmer during the intrasquad swim meet on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 at Ute Natatorium on campus in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Jack Gambassi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Austin Eames, Sports Writer


On Friday, Feb. 10, the Utah men’s swim and dive team traveled to Uytengsu Aquatics Center to take on USC in the team’s final meet before conference championships. Despite less than favorable results, as the Utes fell to USC 161-139, the team collected 8 wins and improved on several personal best times.

This year’s competition between Utah and USC continued a frustrating trend, as the Utes fell to USC’s men’s team for the third year straight. The Utes have a 2-8 record against the Trojans over the last 10 competitions and have only managed wins at home, winning once in 2018 and once in 2020. 

However, despite the continuation of disappointing results versus the USC men’s team, the Utes did show improvement in many individual and team metrics. 

With a final team score of 139 points, the Utah men’s team far surpassed their all-time point average against USC, 119.47. Moreover, Utah garnered a total of eight strong team wins, including an extremely impressive performance in the men’s 3m from Utah freshman diver Elias Petersen.

Petersen had a strong night on the boards. The freshman from Sweden first captured a second-place effort in the men’s 1m where a score of 331.25 points saw the diver achieve a mark well above the NCAA qualifying standard.

Petersen then improved on his placement in the 1m with a first-place finish in the men’s 3m event. With a final score of 365.80, the diver claimed the event title, and the nine team points were allocated to the winner of the event. Additionally, Petersen’s 3m dive score was just barely shy of his record in the event, a 368.50 point total that the diver captured earlier in the season against BYU. 

“Elias did really well to earn a win on 3m against some very tough competition,” diving coach Richard Marschner told Utah Athletics. “He was steady throughout the day and came through big for the team. We’re looking great as a team and are ready to go for Pac-12’s.”

With a number of great performances over the past few meets, Petersen is one of many Ute divers that look primed for a strong showing in the Pac-12 Championship coming later this month. 

In the pool, Andrei Ungur, a fifth-year from Romania, led the way for the Utes with two individual victories. The swimmer’s first victory came in the men’s 100 backstroke event where a final time of 45.65 locked the fastest time in the event. Propelled by the event’s fastest split, swimming a lightning-quick 22.07 his first 50 yards, Ungur cruised, finishing almost two seconds ahead of the next fastest competitor. 

Ungur’s second individual meet win came in the 100 fly, where the swimmer’s 47.19-second effort was a personal best in the event. Moreover, the swim was good enough to claim the seventh fastest time ever in the event for the Utes. 

Other notable individual wins came from Brandon Miller, Jaek Horner and Evan VanBrocklin. Miller’s victory came in one of the meet’s longest events, the 1000-yard freestyle. The freshman from North Carolina’s victory was the result of a 9:11.35 second swim that barely edged out second place by a margin of only two seconds. 

Jaek Horner’s time of 53.02 claimed the title in the meet’s men’s 100-yard breaststroke. Finally, another freshman, Evan VanBrocklin, was the champion of the men’s 500 freestyle with a final time of 4:27.07.

Besides the six individual wins the team claimed, the Utes also managed to capture two victories in relays. The first came in the 200 medley relay where the group of Ungur, Horner, Marko Kovacic and Finn O’Haimhirgin swam a 1:25.53 en route to claiming 11 points for the Utah team. The next relay victory for the Utes came in the 400 freestyle relay where JP Hynes joined Ungur, Horner and O’Haimhirgin, and led the group to a 2:53.66 second victory in the event. 

“It was a pretty close meet and we only lost by 22 points,” head coach Jonas Persson told Utah Athletics. “It shows that our training and our coaching and our culture is really working and even though the guys are disappointed that they lost, they’re also really excited that we’re moving forward in the right direction.”

Move forward the team must, as the Utes’ next meet is the Pac-12 Championship beginning Feb. 23 with men’s and women’s diving and March 1 for men’s and women’s swimming. The Utes’ next meet will be their biggest of the season, as the 2023 Pac-12 Championships will be a culmination of all the hard work the team has put in over the course of the season. 


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