The Utes look to defend their conference title in 2006-07.
Oct. 12, 2006
The University of Utah women's swimming and diving team is coming off its third straight Mountain West Conference regular-season championship and its first conference championship. Going into the 2006-07 season the Utes are looking to defend their title and entrench themselves on the national level.
The team is fresh off a season that saw it go 9-1 in dual meet competition and 8-0 in conference dual meets. The Utes then racked up 679.5 points on their way to winning the MWC Championship meet and setting eight new school records in the process.
In 2006-07, Utah has its sights set high again. "Our goal this year is to go out and top last year's result by doing it again and winning a second title," says Head Coach Michael Litzinger. "Last Year was special, but it's a new year and our focus is on this year."
Experience will be a key to success this season for the team. Of the five seniors on the team three of them are conference champions and record holders. "We have great leadership in this senior class and a lot of swimmers that have been through the process before. That's a great place to start," adds Litzinger. Utah will also have a strong group of underclassmen that will add talent and depth and be a key in its run for a second consecutive conference meet championship.
An early look at the 2006-07 schedule has several big meets that will be key in reaching the goal of becoming a presence on a national level and preparing for another conference championship run. Nov. 4, the team will travel to UNLV to face one of the top teams in the conference. December 1-3 will give the team a look at some quality national talent, as they will compete in the Ohio State Invitational. With five teams competing including host Ohio State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Utah, it will serve as preparation for a run at the end of the year. The regular season will conclude with rival BYU coming to Salt Lake City on February 2.
Utah hasn't lost a home dual meet since 2003.
Overall the Utes look to be one of the strongest teams in the conference in each event. "We look very strong in every event this year and have title potential. That bodes well for the relays as well," states Litzinger.
Sprint/Freestyle 2006 MWC Swimmer of the Year, Amber Walter who qualified and competed at the NCAA Championships in the 50 freestyle, will lead the sprint events. Walker is also the returning conference champion in the 50 freestyle. Jennifer Fredsall and Annie VanLeeuwen will also play a big part in the sprint events.
Alison McInturff will be expected to lead the team in the 200 freestyle. In the distance freestyle events the two-time conference champion in the 1650 freestyle, Rachel Curci returns. Junior transfer Melissa Helmers and freshman Karly Roberts will support her.
Butterfly The Utes return Fredsall, the conference runner-up in the 100 fly and add two-time Israel Olympian Vered Borchovsky to the mix. Kelly McIntyre and Michelle Blair round out what looks to possibly be the strongest event for the Utes this season.
Backstroke Utah boasts a pair of school-record holders in the backstroke event. Sophomore Shannon McQueen and senior Marissa Martin hold the Utah school records for 100 and 200 backstroke. respectively. Freshman Beth Gunderson will add depth and has the ability to become a key component in the future.
Breaststroke Walter is the defending conference champion in the 100 breaststroke and also holds the conference and school records in the event. She will be backed by conference finalist Caitlin Tidwell and in addition Adrienne Coburn.
IM Last year, McInturff set the school record in the 200 IM and will return this season. Adrienne Coburn, Borchovsky and Danielle Gregory will also compete for the Utes. In the 400 IM Coburn will lead the event and newcomers Karly Roberts and Melissa Helmers will contribute as well.
Diving The divers will be anchored by Kelsey Patterson who qualified for the NCAA Championships in both the one- and three-meter diving events. "Diving is one of the most important parts of our success and the team has done a tremendous job for us," concludes Litzinger.