BYU swimmers ready to improve on last year's success as 2013-2014 season looms

By Brittany Bivings

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 18 2013 12:15 p.m. MDT

It’s time for the BYU men’s and women’s swim and dive teams to get back in the water as they head into the 2013-14 season, their third in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.

“I’m really excited for this season and the team we have,” head coach John Brooks said. “For the men’s team, we should compete well in conference because there are only a few teams, so we should reach MPSF Championships and head to NCAA championships. I am also really excited for the women’s team this year and what we should accomplish.”

Two years of back-to-back success in the new conference put the Cougars in the MPSF swimming and diving championships twice. Last year, the women finished second with a score of 635.5 and the men finished third with a score of 598 at conference. Twelve Cougars made first-team all-conference and 26 made second-team all-conference. UC Davis took the women’s championship title last year and UNLV took the men’s. This year, the Cougars will attempt their third conference visit in a row in hopes of placing first.

Senior captains Jordan Fletcher and Andrew Rutherfurd are excited to lead the men’s team to victory this year. The team features nine returned missionaries on the team who, according to Fletcher, bonded their freshman year and have returned with the strongest chemistry he has ever seen in a team at BYU. Conversely, the team is short nine swimmers who leave this season to serve LDS missions. The freshmen swimmers have also impressed the men’s captains, showing their ability to hang with the upperclassmen.

Seniors Alexandra Dodds and Kimberly Doroghian will co-captain the women’s team this year. A total 23 new faces make up the women’s team, since 16 women will not be returning to swim the 2013-2014 season. Ten swimmers graduated in 2013 and six female swimmers were called to serve missions. Those sister missionaries include Paige Baisden, Natalie Bennion, Sarah Bushnell, Shelby Johnson, Meghan O’Very and Ali Tippets.

Freestyle

Fletcher, Stott Bushnell and Brent Murray will compete their senior years leading the men’s sprints. Both Fletcher and Murray aim to repeat all-conference honors and set more records. Last year, Fletcher and Murray helped set the new school and MPSF record in the 200 free relay.

Sophomore Alexandria Sorensen will lead the women’s sprints after performing in conference last season, grabbing three first-place finishes and being named MPSF Female Rookie of the Year. Utah transfer Valerie McMullen and BYU freshman Allison McCormick will swim their first years for the Cougars. Returning senior Angela Bennion will finish her career as part of the women’s sprint team.

Distance

Bushnell will also compete again this year for men’s distance along with sophomore teammate Dallin Johnson, who has returned from a mission. Johnson performed in conference for the Cougars his freshman year as well as all seven dual meets. Freshman Jacob Davis shows promise for the team in the distance event.

Dodds will return as an important member of women’s distance along with sophomore Camille Okelberry. Dodds was a top conference performer last season with three first-place finishes for the Cougars. McMullen will also be swimming distance for the women’s team.

Backstroke

The men’s backstroke swimmers are young with five returning sophomores, including standouts Jake Taylor and McKay King as well as incoming freshman Rainer Ng. In his debut season, Taylor earned all-conference honors in the MWCC, took first in four events and was a top finisher in three other events. This summer, Olympian Ng competed in the 15th FINA World Championships at Barcelona, Spain, for his home country of Singapore.

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