Utah enters the season with an active winning streak of 23 straight dual meets.
Oct. 23, 2007
The University of Utah women's swimming and diving team enters the 2007-08 season with a new look. Head coach Greg Winslow inherits a young and talented team that is looking to make a name for itself as a conference and national power. The Utes are coming off their fourth consecutive regular season title and have an active winning streak of 23 straight dual meets, dating back to Nov. 4, 2005.
The Utes must change from an individual to a team focus after graduating three MWC champions, including Alison McInturff, who earned All-American honors in the 200 free. This season Winslow is turning the focus toward preparing to score points at the MWC and NCAA Championships.
"We are striving to change our expectations and challenge every swimmer to get better each day," says Winslow. "We want to improve as a team and become a mentally tough and physically conditioned team. Our goal is to put the best team in the water at the end of the season."
Utah returns a strong core from last season's team including junior Jennifer Fredsall and sophomore Annie VanLeeuwen, both MWC Champions in the 200 free relay where they set a new MWC and school record with a time of 1:31.93. Fredsall will be training to compete at the Olympic Trials in 2008.
"Jennifer will be counted on for leadership this season," adds Winslow. "She sets the standard for us in the pool and in the classroom as well. She brings a focus to this team that will be important as we look to achieve big things."
VanLeeuwen not only had a record swim in the 200 free relay but also set a second school record in the 400 free relay (3:23.81) at the MWC Championships.
Two other key returnees for the squad this year are Shannon McQueen and Adrienne Coburn. McQueen enters her junior season as a school record holder in the 400 free relay and looks to compete in the Canadian Olympic trials in the summer.
"Adrienne has tremendous work ethic and is a great leader for us," says Winslow. "We can plug her in anywhere and always expect her best."
How the younger swimmers are able to progress in the system will determine how well the Utes compete this season. Utah boasts 14 incoming freshmen and will rely on the newcomers to provide an instant boost to the team. Headlining the new class will be Natalie Edge from Kearns High School (Utah). Edge will be preparing for the 2008 Olympic Trials in June along with some of her teammates.
"We look for Natalie to have an immediate impact for us," says Winslow. "She will come in and be one of our top swimmers in the sprint freestyle and relay events. There really is no limit to what Natalie can do for us."
Winslow's team has a strong foundation to build on and should be strong in several events this season. Even with the loss Amber Walter who set two individual school records in the 50 free and 100 breast, along with three relay records, Utah should be strong in the sprint freestyle events with the addition of Edge to the team. Fredsall will be looked to in the sprint fly event, while McQueen should continue to lead the way in backstroke events. Coburn will be tough to beat all year in the IM events for the Utes as well.
"We want to focus on the details," states Winslow. "We need to be disciplined and mentally tough and just get back to enjoying racing and preparing to win."
Two other freshmen to keep an eye on are Colorado natives Maiya Otsuka and Jessica Moon. Otsuka was a high school All-American and won the Colorado state championship in the 100 fly and 200 IM. Moon has the chance to step up in the freestyle events where she set school records at Air Academy. She also won the Metro League Championship in the 100 fly.
On the diving end Utah adds freshman Kwan Ling Yu from Hong Kong. Yu should immediately bolster the diving events for Utah. She won the three-meter and platform diving events at the Hong Kong Open Diving Championships.
"Kwan is a great new addition and we expect her to help us at the conference championships and in the dual meet season," says Winslow. "She has great body control and hopefully can continue to improve as the season progresses."
Utah will have seven home meets this season before the MWC Championships, which will take place February 27 - March 1, in Oklahoma City, Okla. The season will begin with the team hosting Reddish Relays on October 12, at the Ute Natatorium. The following day, October 13, Utah opens the conference season hosting New Mexico. They will also have five road meets highlighted by the match up on February 1, when the Utes will visit in-state rival and defending conference champion, BYU in Provo, Utah.