Husky Men Open Up Pac-10 Championships Tonight

March 5, 2008

LONG BEACH, Calif. - In what has already been one of the best years in Washington men's swimming history, head coach Whitney Hite and his team will look to add their season-long success at the Pac-10 Conference Men's Swimming Championships that run this week from March 5-8 in Long Beach, Calif.

Hite's main goal for his team centers around qualifying as many swimmers as possible for the NCAA Championships, which run March 27-29 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash.

Hite knows his team cannot win the Pac-10 title because the UW does not field a diving team and the team standings include points from both swimming and diving. Still, though, Hite says his team is ready for this week and looking forward to a strong performance.

'They're ready and they've done the work,' said Hite. 'It should be an exciting meet.

'We've just been fine tuning some things in our training these past few weeks. It's great for our guys to see how much success our girls had last week. We want to build off of that.

'Without (the) diving (points) it really hurts us. I'm hoping even though, kind of like the women, it didn't show that we were the fourth-best team there. With the men I'm hoping that we show them how good we really are.'

The UW women's swimming team finished in seventh place last week at the Pac-10 Championships, its best finish since the 2003 season, and qualified eight swimmers for the NCAA Championships. If you take out the diving points, the Husky women would have finished fourth in the standings. The Husky men are looking to equal that feat.

'As always, we're going to look at Pac-10s as a stepping stone for the NCAAs,' said Hite. 'We didn't have anyone qualify last year so we are looking forward to changing that this year. We want to get as many people to qualify as we can.'

Leading the way for the Huskies will be junior Evan Bernier and senior Ivan Perhat. Bernier earned Pac-10 Men's Swimmer of the Month for January and is the only UW male to ever win the award in its three-year history. He will swim in five relays as well as the 100 butterfly and the 200 individual medley.

Hite says that freshmen Andre Blyth and Russ Mahan, sophomore Erez Fern and junior Yonatan Cohen also have a good chance of qualifying for the NCAA Championships.

Stanford, which has won 26 consecutive Pac-10 titles, is again favored to repeat.

'Considering the last thirty years, I think Stanford is always the favorite,' said Hite. 'Arizona will give them everything they want and more.'

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