WSU swim team heads to Utah 

Cougars to take on Utes in search of Pac-12 victory

Freshman+Kiana+Swain+earned+15+points+in+the+swim+meet+against+the+University+of+Utah+on+Jan.+15%2C+2021+in+Gibb+Pool.

ROBERT HUBNER | WSU PHOTO SERVICES

Freshman Kiana Swain earned 15 points in the swim meet against the University of Utah on Jan. 15, 2021 in Gibb Pool.

LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen reporter

Coming off of a tough first weekend of 2023, the WSU swim team will try to put it in the rearview mirror as they head to Salt Lake City to face the Utah Utes Friday at the Utah Natatorium.

WSU is going into the meet at 1-4 coming off of two straight losses, while Utah goes in at 3-4 coming off of three consecutive wins. Both teams however are 0-4 in Pac-12 competition and are searching for an illustrious first Pac-12 victory.

The goal this week for WSU is to put their best foot forward, from start to end, said WSU head swim coach Matt Leach. Leach said as long as they bring great energy and a positive outlook, they will find success in the pool.

“For me, it’s making sure we’re handling what we can handle, what we can control from our standpoint, bring good energy, executing some of the race plans and race strategies we’ve talked about with our student-athletes,” Leach said. “I think we can swim with this team, I think we stack up very well against Utah.”

WSU junior captain Hailey Grotte shared similar confidence in her team. Like Leach, she said if they all give their best effort from beginning to end, they will have a great meet.

“Going into this next weekend I think we are gonna step up,” Grotte said. “We’ve made some critiques about things we are gonna fix after last weekend.”

While both teams have struggled in conference competition, the level of competition is a big factor in that. Conference opponents like Utah want to win just as badly as WSU, and the skill level in the Pac-12 is on another level, Leach said.

“When we talk about Pac-12 swimming we’re talking about top 25 teams,” Leach said. “We’re trying to continue swimming against those types of elite level athletes and teams as we prepare for Pac-12’s and NCAA’s.”

Grotte said facing a conference opponent brings an added layer of difficulty having raced them before and knowing what they’re gonna bring.

“Going into a conference meet we feel a little bit more pressure to do well,” Grotte said. “Nonconference you don’t always know their swimmers and what they’re gonna bring.”

Regardless of recent struggles and the difficulty of in-conference competition, the Cougars have a huge chance to step up against a conference foe with this being the last in-conference meet of the season. 

This week’s meet is much more than a chance for a tune-up for the postseason, it is a chance to make a statement.

Their next meet will be Feb. 3 in Pullman agaisnt Idaho to finish the regular season.