|Swimming and diving opens Saturday|
By Anthony Kuipers, Idaho Athletic Media Relations
Excitement always surrounds the first swim meet of the season, but this year the University of Idaho Swimming and Diving team will get to enjoy that excitement in front of a home crowd when it takes on Boise State at the UI Swim Center for an 11 a.m. dual meet Saturday.
“We love being here,” coach Mark Sowa said. “We love being in front of our fans. We pack the place when we race here. So, there’s a lot of support and our girls really do feed off of that.”
Idaho fans attending the first home-opener since 2010 will see many familiar faces as 18 swimmers and divers are returning from last year. The Vandals are coming off a 2011-12 season where they finished seventh in the Western Athletic Conference, but earned several impressive wins and broke numerous school records along the way. Among those record-breakers are senior Kelsie Saxe, juniors Lyndsay Williams and Paige Hunt, and sophomore Rachel Millet.
He said the returning athletes already are showing considerable improvement from last year.
“I will tell you, I believe we’re more fit than we were a year ago at this point,” Sowa said. “I think we’re better swimmers than we were a year ago.”
This will be Sowa’s second season at the helm. He said he appreciates having a full year to familiarize himself with the team as opposed to the six weeks he had at the start of last season.
The first meet will be a tough test for the Vandals. Boise State enters the season as the defending Mountain West Conference champion and is picked to finish second in the conference this year, according to preseason polls.
Sowa said this will be an important opportunity for the Vandals to challenge themselves right away against a talented program.
“I want to race great competition, which is what BSU is,” Sowa said. “I want to put us in uncomfortable situations where we have to deal with adversity, which is what we will do. This will be a learning experience. This is a nice jumping off point.”
Sowa said the first meet will be crucial in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the team.
“We’re going to learn a lot about what we have and we’ll use that information and move forward and continue to progress,” Sowa said.