The Utah women's team is back for another season and looking to defend its regualr season championship.
Oct. 21, 2004
Utah women's swimming and diving team is coming off its best dual meet season after winning a share of the MWC regular season championship, and a fourth place finish at the MWC Championships. The Utes are again poised to contend for the conference, but also want to make a splash at the MWC meet and on the national level under Head Coach Michael Litzinger, who enters his fifth season with Utah.
Utah will deal with the lose of Kristen Kaiser to graduation, who holds Utah records in four events, But the Utes reloaded with 12 new freshmen, and return 18 members from last year's squad.
Junior Amy Barefield will lead Utah's freestyle sprinters. Barefield was named to the All-MWC team in both the 50 and 100 freestyle events after finishing second in both events at the MWC Championships.
"Amy's done a tremendous job taking the reigns of our sprint group, and we'll look to her to lead our sprinters," says Litzinger. "Allison McInturff will provide support as she aims to improve on a solid freshman season."
MWC champion in the 1650 free and Utah record holder Rachael Curci will pace the Utes in the distance freestyle events after garnering All-MWC honors last season. Utah returns a solid group of distance swimmers including senior Loren Sweny, who competed at the Canadian Olympic trials, and looks to improve on last year. Senior Marta Stepanczuk enters her second year with the Utes finishing third in the 500 free at the MWC championships to earn All-MWC honors. Stepanczuk also holds the second fastest time at Utah in the 500 free.
Junior Meghan Demchuk also earned All-MWC honors after finishing third in the 100 fly at the conference championships last year. Demchuk holds the second fastest time at Utah in the 100 fly. High School All-American Michelle Blair joins the Utes and will add to an already deep butterfly squad of Libby McClure, Kendall Smith and Melissa Young.
"Meghan is coming off of a great year," comments Litzinger. "She will continue to lead this squad, and Michelle will certainly help Utah continue to be a presence in the butterfly in the Mountain West."
Utah record holder Marissa Martin will look to improve on her fourth-place finish at the MWC Championships, and conference finalists Jamie Trapp and Sweny will provide a wealth of experience for the Utes in the Backstroke. Leah Jensen and Young both will bolster an already solid core of swimmers for Utah.
"This is probably our deepest position," notes Litzinger. "Jamie and Loren provide the needed experience and Marissa will continue to improve on last season's success."
Junior Ariane Kich holds the Utah school record in the 200 breast, and will lead the way for Utah in the breastroke. Utah native Adrienne Coburn and Lezah Huff of Arizona join the Utes after winning state titles in their respective events. Both Coburn and Huff were named high school All-Americans, and bring depth to Utah.
"Adrienne will make an immediate impact on our program, as well as the conference," says Litzinger. "Lezah is an instant finalist in both breaststroke events in the Mountain West."
Veterans Demchuk, Trapp and Kich hold the second, third and fourth fastest times in the 200 IM at Utah, respectively. Coburn will provide support for the upperclassmen, earning high school All-America laurels in the 200 in 2004.
Kelsey Patterson joins the Utes after transferring from Auburn University. Patterson competed at the NCAA Zone B Championships while at Auburn, and holds the platform provincial record in Alberta, Canada.
"This women's team is the best I've seen since I've joined the Utes," says diving coach Rachel Degener. "Kelsey comes to us as a record holder, and we expect the same great results here, and with freshman Keira Higbee we have a solid group of divers."
Utah has become a contender in the conference, and this season they look to improve from last year's finish and turn some heads.