The CSU swimming team is ready to clash with the Denver University Pioneers today after the team makes a short road trip to Denver. The two teams are scheduled to begin the waterworks at 5 p.m., and the Rams are ready for the challenge.
The CSU swimmers are going into Denver after winning two out of three in a home stand that lasted as many days. The Rams narrowly escaped Mountain West Conference rival Utah, second in the MWC at 5-1-1, 156-144. The next day the Rams were defeated by MWC-best BYU, 149.5-93.5.
Not focused on the loss, CSU came out on the third day and pummeled New Mexico State 158-114. Using the momentum from their last two wins, the Rams believe the meet against Denver could be a good opportunity to gain some confidence as the season begins to wind down.
“We’re focusing on DU, we obviously want to win,” said senior Annsley Lujan. “I think we’re just thinking of (the meet) as a stepping stone until we get to conferences.”
While the Rams stink of confidence and have owned DU in the past two meetings, the Pioneers are not to be overlooked.
“I anticipate that DU will challenge us in every event like they always do,” said head swimming coach John Mattos. “We’re hoping that our kids are up to that challenge and be able to get their hand on the wall first.”
Similar to the outlook of an out-of-control soccer dad, being first counts for everything in swimming. First place can get double the amount of points of second or third place, meaning that second really is the first loser.
Because the regular season champion has already been crowned (BYU is undefeated in conference match-ups), today’s meet means nothing in the standings. But a win could ensure some more poise to an already composed team and have broader implications in the future.
“We push each other for in-state recruits,” said Mattos. “They have a great facility. So we are challenged with the in-state recruits.”
The diving side of the team will be traveling to Colorado Springs for a two-day event on Saturday, The Air Force Academy Diving Invite. This invite will give the divers an opportunity to taste what’s to come at conference championships.
“This is a good chance for us to have a championship style meet,” said head diving coach Kevin Whitt. “We’re prepared to go down and do our best.”
Most meets only allow the divers to compete in one-meter and three-meter dives, but this invite will also include tower dives. The height of the dives may be new but so is the pressure to win.
DU will also be sending divers, which means if the swimming meet is close at the end of today the deciding factor may be the two-day performance of the divers.
“It doesn’t put any pressure on us. It just makes us dive harder and better,” said freshman Shayna Solomon. “I think we’re all prepared to do this meet really well, and we have a really good chance of winning it.”
The divers will compete through Sunday then return home to Fort Collins. After this weekend’s competition the Rams will have one home meet against conference rival Wyoming on Feb. 6 before going to Oklahoma for the conference championship meet.
Sports writer Keith Robertson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.