LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Wyoming Cowboy swimming and diving team enters the 2005-06 season without a returning All-American for the first time in two years. However, the Cowboys have just the lineup to see a few new Cowboy enter the national spotlight.
The Cowboys will be led by a pair of seniors in Brent Baker and Gene Birks as well as two junior captains in Ron Fogel and John Lynch. The Cowboy lineup boasts 10 all-time top-five times and three school records.
To add to its already impressive lineup, the Cowboys added nine talented recruits.
"We don't have the experience we've had in the past, but what we do have is a lot of talent throughout our lineup," said UW head coach Tom Johnson. "We lost some big contributors from last year but with our returners and newcomers, we can definitely fill those spots. I am excited to see what happens this season and how the team grows."
Following is a look at the 2005-06 Cowboy Lineup
"We are a little thinner than we would like to be in the sprints so we will have to have a lot of different guys contribute," said UW head coach Tom Johnson. "However, the guys we do have are all capable of doing big things."
Middle Distance Freestyle
The Cowboys will be led by a true freshman in Eli Bell, who brings with him one of the fastest sets of high school times in the country. Simo and freshman Curtis Smith will have to learn quickly but have the talent to contribute on the college level immediately. Birks will also see time in these events.
"Eli is a tremendous young swimmer and we are thrilled that he is a Cowboy," said Johnson. "Andrew and Curtis are both very capable of winning some big points this season."
The distance freestyle swimmers will be led by two extremely talented Cowboys. Sophomore Henry Holmberg is the school record holder in the 1000 and swam the second fastest times in the 500 and 1650 as a true freshman. Junior Nick King has improved in each year of his career and set personal best times in both the 500 and 1650 last season. The third distance spot in dual meets will swam by committee.
"We may not be especially strong on the front end, but we are deep enough to compensate for that," said Johnson.
The Cowboy breaststroke will be without Olympian and All-American Scott Usher for the first time in four years. However, they have a great group of guys to step in. Leading the charge will be freshman Alex Larkin, junior Dan Jones and sophomore Will McCallum.
"Alex is a hammer, Dan has improved leaps and bounds and Will has tons of young talent," said Johnson. "Alex brings some of the fastest high school times in the country and we are very excited to pick up a recruit like him."
A pair of school record holders will lead the charge in the fly this season. Birks holds the record in the 100 and Fogel does so in the 200. Both are First Team All-Conference performers and have been on the cusp of the NCAA's over the past two seasons. Butterfly specialist Matt Urich is a freshman who will see a lot of time as well.
"We are as strong and deep as ever in the fly," said Johnson. "Gene and Ron are both school record holders and Matt is a talented young guy who just needs to gain some experience."
Leading a talented group of IM'ers will be Sam King, who swam the fifth fastest 400 time in school history last season. Urich, Jones, and sophomore Levi Bell will also make big contributions this season.
The Wyoming diving team welcomes back two school record setting and NCAA Zone qualifying divers in juniors John Lynch and Kevin Bretting. Lynch, who has three top-five UW performances, will lead the charge and Bretting, who holds the third highest platform score in school history, will contribute greatly. The Cowboys also welcome a pair of high school state champions in freshmen Tyler Miller and Nick Stone.
"I am so proud of where our divers are and of what the future holds," said Johnson. "Ben is doing a tremendous job and we will have four of the strongest divers in the conference this season."