SWIMMING AND DIVING: Women go for fourth championship

Wes Watt

Instead of a fancy logo or catchy phrase like it has done in years past, Western’s women’s swimming and diving team could only put one thing on its team shirts this year: the number four.

That number signifies how many Sun Belt Conference Championships the team is attempting to win in a row. Western has not only had success in the Sun Belt, but it has won every SBC championship meet by an average of 173 points since the conference added women’s swimming in 2000.

The Lady Toppers look once again to be the favorite as they bring a 13-1 record into the championships that begin tonight at Little Rock, Ark. Western was picked to win, receiving all seven first-place votes in the Sun Belt poll.

“It’s ours to lose,” coach Bill Powell said. “We think our girls are ready. They’re upbeat and they have great attitudes. We’re stronger than last year and I think it is going to be a great meet for us.”

Diving has been a strong ally for the Lady Toppers in past championships. Senior Marci Kascir and junior Trisha Nailor took first-and second-place honors, respectively, in last year’s 249-point triumph.

Kascir has been named Sun Belt diver of the week three times this season and her experience will be an asset. The conference championship is what the whole season is about, Kascir said last week. She said no matter what happens during the regular season, the championships are what they train for. But Kascir and Nailor will not be alone.

They have some teammates who have experience in championships as well. The team returns four swimmers who took first place honors in last year’s event. Juniors Alexis Rieck and Lucy Faria and sophomores Meredith Mountjoy and Amber Miller are all hoping to repeat as champions in their events.

A strong freshmen class will only help Powell and company. The freshmen have accounted for 19 first-place finishes this season. Freshman sensation Jennifer Johnson has racked up eight first-place finishes herself.

But first-place finishes alone will not equal a victory, Powell said. It’s his team’s depth that will apply relentless pressure to the seven other teams competing. ?

“We are hoping that our depth will be the big factor. We really don’t figure to win many events, but we plan on having three or four people in the finals,” Powell said. “If the other teams split up the first-place finishes and we place second, third, fourth and fifth in each event, we’ll be able to outscore the other teams big time and that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Reach Wes Watt at [email protected]