LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The 2004-05 season promises to be one of the most exciting swimming and diving seasons in Wyoming history.
The Cowboys return an Olympian, a three-time All-American and a five time MWC champion in one swimmer; senior Scott Usher. They also return a MWC Champion and school record holder in junior Gene Birks and school record holders in junior Ethan Maclean and sophomore Ron Fogel. All in all, 13 top-five performers in UW history will be competing for the Cowboys this season. Three NCAA Zone "E" Qualifying divers also return.
"I am very encouraged by what we have done this preseason," said UW head coach Tom Johnson. "It has been nice to get some early votes in the top-25 coaches poll. As a team we are on the cusp of the top-25 and that is awesome. Individually, we have some very high rankings allready and I am very excited about those as well. Hopefully this can transend into a top-20 finish at the NCAA Championships next March."
Here is how the Cowboys look in each event:
"Gene is a very versatile swimmer and will make a huge impact this season," said Johnson. "Bryce has a ton of experience and will continue to prove himself in the pool."
Middle Distance Freestyle:
The middle distance freestyle events promise to be very solid events for the Pokes this season. Senior Grant Kritzinger, Marais, sophomore Brent Baker and Birks will all see time in the water in these events.
"Grant has been the cornerstone in these events and will continue to do so this year," said Johnson. "I am expecting to see big things from Grant, Carl, Brent and Gene in the middle distance events."
The Cowboy backstroke promises to be huge for the Cowboys this season. Maclean, the school record holder in the 100, along with Marais and freshman Piers Blyth will carry the load in these events.
"Carl is extremely talented in the backstroke and will make a run at both records," said Johnson. "Ethan has proved what he can do and Peirs is a strong freshman who is looking to make a statement this year. Overall, I am very excited about our backstroke."
Usher will once again be the man for the Cowboys in the breaststroke.
"I am so excited to see what Scott can do this year," said Johnson. "I think that he has a real shot of winning an NCAA title. He gets better and better every year I am excited to see what this year holds for him."
Two school record holders will carry the load this season in the Cowboy butterfly. Birks, the school record holder in 100, won the event at last year's MWC Championships. Fogel, who set the UW record in the 200 as a true freshman, finished second in the event at last year's conference championships. Freshman Sam King and Nick King will provide depth in the butterfly events.
Kritzinger, Jones and Usher will lead the way in the 200 while freshman Sam King will be the man for the Cowboys in the 400.
"We are very strong and experienced in the 200 and Sam is very talented in the 400," said Johnson. "We are excited to see some big things from our IM'ers."
First year head coach Ben Herdt will look to guide these divers to new heights this season. "Our divers are very technically sound," said Johnson. "Ben is doing a tremendous job and I am extremely impressed with the things our divers are doing. We expect big things in the diving events. Every week, it seems like someone new steps up between those three guys. They do an awesome job together."