The WASP is making its presence felt at the 1988 Utah Summer Games.
No, Cedar City isn't being overcome by a stinger-happy horde. Instead, the WASP can be found at the Games' swimming competition.WASP stands for Wasatch Area Swim Project, the first-year brainchild of University of Utah assistant swimming coach Tom Hewson. Forming the WASP nucleus are a half-dozen collegiate-quality swimmers staying in Utah for their summer training this year.
As for their competition in the Summer Games, one can look at it one of two ways - either as a bunch of swimming bullies leaving younger, lesser-talented swimmers in their wake or as a collective example of keeping Utah-developed talent at home and setting some standards of top-notch performances.
"We're out to set a precent of what fast swimming is and to set a role model for Utah's swim clubs," Hewson said.
The WASP swimmers have their eyes set on qualifying for the Olympic Trials, the Junior Nationals and the American Finals - if not at the Utah Games then sometime else during summer competition. Meanwhile, Hewson has his eye set on keeping local swimmers just that - local - instead of watching them head out-of-state for their summer training.
"We need to keep the Utah talent here in Utah . . . . We need to get the recognition here in Salt Lake City where they deserve it."
Consider Ute swimmer Shawn Rowland, a three-event Western Athletic Conference champion, a sixth-place finisher in the NCAA 200-meter fly, an eighth-place winner in the NCAA 400 individual medley, and a bronze medalist in last summer's World University Games in Yugoslavia.
Joining Rowland are the likes of Utah teammate Arnie Miles, WAC champ in the 100 back and runner-up in the 400 IM; and BYU's Rob Doman, the WAC runner-up in both the 100 back and 200 back. Miles is within a half-second of qualifying for the Olympic Trials, while Doman has missed by a mere .01.
Then there's former Brighton High swimmer Albert Vicario, the 4A runner-up in the 100 fly who is hoping to make the Junior Nationals this summer and then join the Utes as a walk-on this fall. And Ute swimmer Richard Johansson had been part of the Games-bound WASP contingent until he was called back late last weekend to his native Sweden, where he was required to participate in a Swedish met in order to maintain his sponsorship in the United States.
One more core member - Louis Aispuro, Mexico's sixth-best youngster in the 100 breaststroke, has been working with WASP for a week now. He had watched the Ute swim team compete during its trip to Mexico City last December and came to Hewson for training assistance. "He wants to go home in the top three, and I think we can make that happen," said Hewson, adding that Aispuro could even make the Utah team with some swimming and scholastic help.
Since having included its Summer Games performances as part of its training and hoped-for qualifying, the WASP entourage is upgrading the quality of competition in the scholastic and open divisions of the Games' swimming. But they don't see it as being pool-bound bullies to the younger, up-and-coming swimmers.
"Hopefully it gives them something to shoot for," Miles said.