WSU swim team falls to Utah despite strong effort

The Cougars swimmers found some individual success against Utah, but ultimately came up short.


Courtesy - WSU Athletics

WSU swim team competing against Cal, Oct. 16 2022.

LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen reporter

The WSU swim team took on Utah Friday, losing 156-99. The team finished the season 0-5 in Pac-12 dual meets.

Despite the loss, WSU head coach Matt Leach said that despite the unfortunate record, the team is always looking forward to the next event with hopes of peaking at the end of the season and in postseason competition.

“Obviously we want to win every dual meet, that’s why we have dual meets,” Leach said. “But if we are doing things the right way, and we’re having our best swims when it matters at Pac-12 Championships and NCAA’s, then to me, we’re doing things right, regardless of what the dual meet says.”

Finding student-athletes that think that same way is important because it is tough, but the team has been preaching from day one that the next meet is most important, Leach said.

One disadvantage the WSU swim team has had all season long is not having a diving team when their opponents often do. Despite the disadvantage, Leach’s message is simple.

“I say look, let’s focus on us, let’s focus on what we can control and you know, try and get up and race and do the best we can in the pool, in the swimming section,” Leach said. “We can’t control what anyone does on the diving side.”

Before the Utah meet, Leach said he wanted to see better effort and more energy out of his team. The effort was much better against Utah but there is still work to do before the postseason, but overall, they did a better job there, Leach said.

Leach referenced big performances from Noelle Harvey as a sparkplug for the team’s energy overall. Harvey took first place in the 1000-meter freestyle at 10:25.95 behind a great comeback in the 750, 800 and 900-meter marks. She also took first in the 500-meter freestyle at 5:03.96, which was her fastest time as a Coug.

Leach said before the meet that he thought they matched up well against Utah. Utah posted some season-best and lifetime-best dual meet times against the Cougs that couldn’t have been anticipated, but the team didn’t let that stand in the way, Leach said.

“Where I thought we matched up well, they would have those lifetime-best times, which is fine, which is great for them,” Leach said. “For me, it goes back to what we’re doing and what we weren’t, we weren’t far off, we were pretty much on the same times or a little bit faster.”

Utah may have had a great day in the pool, but the Cougs had some really good showings of their own with freshman Dori Hathazi finishing first in the 200-meter butterfly stroke at 2:02.94 and second in the 100-meter butterfly stroke at 56.82. Fellow freshman Emily Lundgren finished second in the 100-meter breaststroke at 1:04.40 and Hailey Grotte took third in the 200-meter freestyle at 1:53.70.

The team has been trying to transition into a different cycle of training that will hopefully continue to show up in the future but the team overall still has things to work on, Leach said.

“We’ve been trying to get more speed into them from the start. So we’re still working on that, especially out of our 100’s swimmers and 50’s swimmers,” Leach said. “But I think you know, based on performances at Utah, you know, we’ve been trying to be a little more consistent on pacing, and you know, I think our mid-distance and distance group did a really good job there.”

From here the Cougs have a week off from dual meets before taking on the Idaho Vandals Feb. 3 right here at Gibb Pool in their last duel meet of the year before the postseason.