MWC Swimming and Diving Championships Set to Begin This Wednesday

Feb. 22, 2005


The University of Wyoming men's and women's swimming and diving teams will begin competition in the 2005 Mountain West Conference Swimming and Diving Championships tomorrow at the Oklahoma City Community College in Oklahoma City, Okla. The championships will run from Wednesday through Saturday.

The Cowboys enter the championships as the third seeded men's team as they finished the year with a 2-2 MWC dual mark and an overall record of 5-3. The Cowgirls finished fourth in the conference this year with a 4-3 dual record and an overall mark of 5-4.

The Cowboys head into the championships with the fastest times in the conference in nine swimming events including four relays. The Pokes have swam the fastest times in the MWC this season in the 400 and 800 freestyle relay's as well as the 200 and 400 medley relay's.Individually, senior Olympian Scott Usher has the fastest conference times in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. Freshman Carl Marais leads the conference in the 100 and 200 freestyles and junior Gene Birks has the fastest time in the league in the 100 butterfly.

The Cowgirls enter the championships with six top-five swims in the conference this season including three relay's. The Cowgirls swam the conferences fourth fastest 200 freestyle relay and fifth fastest 800 freestyle and 200 medley relay times. Individually, sophomore Lauren Beard enters the championships with the third fastest time in the 200 IM. Freshman Lindsey Russenberger has the fourth fastest time in the 100 breaststroke and sophomore Erin Spadinger holds the fifth fastest 200 breaststroke time.

The divers have consistently performed well against MWC conference schools this season, regularly placing divers in the top-three of their events. Diving for the Cowboys will be senior Adam Miller, a two-time MWC Diver of the Week this season in sophomore John Lynch and sophomore Kevin Bretting. Diving for the Cowgirls will be sophomore's Saara Haapanen and Emily Keefer and freshmen Brittany Wainwright and Ginni van Katwijk.

A pair of Cowboys will be defending their MWC titles from last year in Usher and Birks. Usher won both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes while Birks won the 100 butterfly last season. Usher was named the MWC Men's Swimmer of the Year and UW head coach Tom Johnson was named the MWC Men's Coach of the Year following last year's championships.

Haapanen was the highest Cowgirl finisher in last year's championships as she place third on the 1-meter diving board. Beard scored the most points for the Cowgirls at last year's championships as she helped earn 67 team points.

The Cowboys are looking to improve on their fifth place finish at the 2004 MWC Championships while the Cowgirls look to improve on a sixth place finish from a year ago. BYU has won both the men's and women's MWC Swimming and Diving Championships in all five year's of the conference's existence.