The CSU swimming and diving team is in Oklahoma City, Okla. today for the Mountain West Conference Championships, looking to top their second place standing.
The Rams, (10-4, 6-2 MWC) who finished the regular season behind only BYU, will be competing against the best swimmers from every school in the conference.
“Each team brings a handful of athletes that are very, very good,” said head coach John Mattos. “I anticipate it’s going to be difficult.”
The team should be extra prepared for the challenge; they have taken the last two weeks of off-time to put in extra weight and pool time in anticipation of this week’s meet.
The Rams are coming off of one of their biggest wins, beating Wyoming 174-126, and are confident that their experience in duel meets this season will help them against their MWC foes.
“I really feel that the kids are ready, I think they’re focused, they’re confident, they’re going into this conference meet feeling that they have done some good things,” Mattos said.
In years past the team has not fared well in head-to-head match ups, but this season the Rams have gone 4-1 in such meets.
The Rams know where they placed in the regular season, and they’re using it to their advantage.
“I don’t think (being second in MWC) is hurting us. I think it gives us a boost,” Mattos said. “An emotional boost, a physical boost, it gives us a physiological boost and makes us want to hang on to that territory.”
The Rams feel that this meet could be theirs; only one thing remains in the way.
“We got to get past BYU,” Mattos said.
The Rams traveled to the Sooner State with only 16 swimmers, hoping that depth won’t be a problem. If there is no clear favorite early in the meet the mixture of competition could get even more intense.
“One team’s probably going to stand out, but it’s got to be three-and-a-half days of standing out. You just got to be on your game,” said Mattos.
The ladies of the diving team also plan on making a splash, as they have been performing well over the last couple of weeks.
“I think our divers will perform real well. And hopefully we’ll be able to represent CSU in a manner that will bring us back,” Mattos said.
The most unusual feature of this year’s conference championship is the introduction of the Laser Suit, the same suit used in the Olympics this past summer. Unfortunately the Rams were shorted on the number of suits in their recent order, putting the swimmers in a situation where they will have to change and share the suits after each race.
The Lady Rams will be competing through Saturday. With enough points the Rams could win the MWC championship and stamp their ticket to the NCAA finals in March.
Sports writer Keith Robertson can be reached at email@example.com.