The Western Athletic Conference will hold its swimming and diving championships, Thursday through Saturday at the BYU pool. Cougar Coach Tim Powers says, however, that home water isn't necessarily enough to make his team a winner.

The University of Utah is favored to win again. Utah has won 15 WAC championships in 25 years. And by all accounts, nothing is going to change. "Utah is favored - far and away favored," said Powers. "First, they beat everybody. It doesn't take a genius to figure that part out. And they don't have any real weaknesses. And they have good sprinting, and this year that is very important."Sprint-related events have become a hot issue this year in college swimming, thanks to the addition of a new ruling. The rule allows for the addition of two sprint relay races - the 200 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay. The new events favor teams with good sprinters, because a participant can swim in four relay races besides his individual events.

Utah goes into the meet led by senior Anders Bladh, who has churned up all his competition, winning every 50- and 100-yard race he has competed in.

"And, boy, is he (Bladh) neat to have as anchor on the end of those relays," said Ute Coach Don Reddish.

Bladh won won the 50- and 100-yard WAC freestyle titles in 1987 and 1986, but last year he was upstaged by Hawaii's Corey Carroll.

Utah has built a 13-2 dual meet record, its only losses being to Top 10 teams Arizona State and Nebraska. The Utes have beaten every WAC opponent that fields a swimming team - BYU (three times), Hawaii, Air Force, Wyoming and New Mexico.

"We should win," said Reddish. "But it's athletics. That's what makes it fun. Who knows? Because of our depth, if eveyone swims well and stays healthy, we should win."

Utah has also been bolstered by efforts of Arne Miles in the 200 and 400 IMs, Sal Castro in the sprint freestyles and 100 butterfly and Jim Giottonini in the 100 and 200 butterfly events.

The Cougars will be led by Ng Yue Meng, who is the top returning 100 breaststroker in the league - by a whopping three seconds. Teammate Kristian Johansen has the fastest 400 IM time in the league and Rob Doman, who won the WAC in the 100 back last year, is swimming well again.

The Cougars are 6-4 in dual competition, having beaten Wyoming, New Mexico and Air Force. Powers said his team could be ranked among the contenders along with Hawaii and New Mexico.

The Rainbows, who are strong in sprints and diving events, are led by Carroll, who upset Bladh in the 100 and 50 freestyle last year. But Bladh won twice in the 50 free and once in the 100 to claim all three races against Carroll this year.

Preliminaries will be daily at noon with finals at 7 p.m.

WAC Swimming Champions:

1988 - Utah1979 - BYU1970 - Utah

1987 - Utah1978 - Arizona1969 - Utah

1986 - New Mexico1977 - Arizona1968 - Utah

1985 - Hawaii1976 - Arizona1967 - Utah

1984 - Hawaii1975 - Arizona1966 - Utah

1983 - Utah1974 - BYU1965 - Utah

1982 - Utah1973 - New Mexico1964 - Utah

1981 - Utah1972 - Colorado State1963 - Utah

1980 - Utah1971 - Utah