It is the end of the season and time for the CSU swimmers and divers to prove what they are made of at the Mountain West Conference Championship Tournament. The Rams will look to be champions for the first time since 1996.
The Rams have finished in the top three in the last three years, but hope to finish higher this year.
“We are going for the win. It is going to be hard and it will probably come down to the last night, but we are going to do it,” junior Kristen Schneider said. “BYU had a really strong second half of the season and should be our toughest competition along with UNLV.”
Schneider is expected to have a good showing once again at the tournament and will be racing in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke, the 200-yard individual medley, the 400- and 800-yard freestyle relays, and the 200- and 400-yard medley relays.
In her first two years, Schneider won the 100-yard backstroke and scored high enough to advance to the NCAA Finals.
CSU finished the regular season with a 6-1 conference record that put it in second place in the MWC. The team’s only loss came from the undefeated UNLV squad.
Practices for the past two weeks have been at a lower pace and head coach John Mattos thinks his team is ready to swim.
“We have brought all the kids down in yardage and intensity to rest them,” Mattos said. “I think we are prepared physically and we have worked a lot being mentally prepared.”
Last year UNLV took first, followed by BYU and CSU.
“I think we have as good of a chance as anybody. BYU, UNLV and Utah could all go for the championship, but we don’t want to count anyone out,” Mattos said. “New Mexico, San Diego State or Air Force could all sneak into the race.”
The divers have also been preparing for the tournament and will send four divers to compete. Senior Erin Shumway, junior Lori Vigil, and sophomores Kara Crisp and Elizabeth Kidner hope to get higher scores than last year.
“I am excited, I think we can do really well,” Crisp said. “We are ready to kick everyone’s ass.”
Vigil is expected to lead the Rams and has already scored high enough during the regular season to qualify for the Zone E Diving Regionals on March 14.
The Rams left for Oklahoma City, Okla., on Monday to prepare for the championships that will be held Wednesday through Saturday. Those that swim well enough to advance to the NCAA Finals will add another month to their season and compete in the finals starting March 20.