Oct. 10, 2002
The University of Utah men's swimming team is ready to make a move and be a threat in the Mountain West Conference this year. Under third-year Head Coach Michael Litzinger, the Utes look to move up the conference standings and bring a winning attitude back to the men's swimming program. Utah finished fifth in the conference last year. But with increased depth, the team is determined to return to its traditional role as a conference contender.
"Winning attitudes turn into winning dual meets, and winning dual meets turns into success on the conference and national level."
-- Utah Coach Michael Litzinger
Co-captains John Mikael Carlile and Trent Shino will have to have a major impact every week for the Utes to win. "Trent was the unsung hero last year and will be a key leader for the team this year." Shino was a conference finalist last year in the breaststroke. Carlile continues his improvement in the breaststroke, and is expected to take on a larger role this season.
Senior David Fleisch is also expected to return to top form this season. "David has been around the block, and we need his versatility, strength and determination to be successful," states Litzinger.
Sophomore Cody Rempfer, who last year advanced to the finals in each of his three events at the MWC Championship meet, and qualified for the U.S. Nationals in the 200 fly, 200 IM and 100 fly, will be a big contributor to the team again this year. The Utes also return Evan Castro, who dominated the sprint breaststroke for the team all season. Castro captured 10th place in the 100-meter breaststoke at the 2002 U.S. National Championships last spring, and is looking to take his level of performance up to the NCAA's this season. "Our sophomore class is without a doubt the best in the conference, and their continued improvement means great things for Utah," says Litzinger.
Depth is no longer a concern for the Utes. A strong supporting cast has been accumulated that will be a key for the team to win meets this year. Coming off a solid set of performances in 2001-02, the team is looking to ride that momentum into the new season.
Developing a daily competitive atmosphere in the practice pool will be the key challenge this year, "Racing daily needs to be our priority from our distance group to the sprinters," admits Litzinger. If the team gels early in the season, the Utes could be a spoiler in the Mountain West pecking order.
Utah has raised its expectations this year and has set its goals at a high level. "Winning attitudes turn into winning dual meets, and winning dual meets turns into success on the conference and national level," adds Litzinger. With a school that has won 22 past conference championships, the men are looking to carve their own niche in Utah history, and feel like they are moving in the right direction.
This year's schedule is a very tough one. It includes Ohio State and Florida State, which are perennial top 20 teams in the NCAA. With conference opponents including Air Force, Wyoming and Brigham Young, Utah will have to be ready to compete well each week.
In the coming years under Litzinger, Utah is looking to build itself into not only a conference contender, but also a national threat. The Utes are taking strides to reach that status and in 2002-03 should be exciting to watch as they work towards re-establishing themselves as a top-level program.