Playoff time has come for ASU swim and dive. The team will kick off the Pac-12 tournament with the women competing on Feb. 23-26 followed by the men's team on Mar. 2-5, and aims to win the program's first Pac-12 title in school history.
While the men's 1-3 and the women's 2-4 records may not show positive signs, the Sun Devils have come a long way from where they were just one year ago. In 2020-21, the team watched other schools compete while it redshirted the entirety of the season.
"Not being able to race for such a long period of time made us all a little bit antsy to get back and compete," redshirt junior swimmer Cody Bybee said. "It gave us time to work on our weaknesses and improve on our strengths even more. Now we are just ready to let it rip."
Sitting out for a whole season made the Sun Devils hungrier to compete at the biggest stage and made them all more motivated to perform at the Pac-12 tournament this year.
"This should be the best performance we ever have in the history of the program," Bybee said.
The Sun Devils have shown that grit and determination this season proving to other Pac-12 opponents they should not be slept on. The women's team showed early on that it would be a scary squad to face, beating Washington State on the road in its season opener followed by another impressive victory against UCLA.
Despite the hot start, the women's team lost its next four meets as its record dropped to 2-4 on the year.
Throughout the 2021-22 campaign, redshirt sophomores Lindsay Looney and Jade Foelske have been phenomenal for the Sun Devils, scoring in the top-seven fastest times in program history for the 200-fly.
The women were able to form unbreakable bonds that only helped the team's overall success.
"There are so many personalities, but we all fit so well together," redshirt sophomore swimmer Savannah Mitchell said. "It's such a tight-knit group with so much support. It makes it so much easier to go through all the tough practices and scary meets knowing that we all have each other's backs."
On the men's side, the season did not start as anticipated. The team dropped its first three meets against USC, Stanford and Cal. However, that all changed when the Sun Devils defeated their in-state rival Wildcats in Tucson in a 195-103 victory led by redshirt senior Grant House and freshman Léon Marchand.
Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment from the men's team this year was bringing in both sophomores Zachory Lundgren and Thomas Wesche mid-season to help jumpstart the school's diving program. While they didn't have very much time to prepare for the Pac-12 tournament, first-year diving coach Marc Briggs and his two new recruits have made the most of their time and have improved tremendously.
"We've actually only had a little more than a month to prepare for the championships, which is not ideal, but we've been working hard," Briggs said. "We've had a couple dual meets, one versus Stanford and one versus GCU, to help us prepare, and we look good and ready to go for the tournament."
During the Pac-12 tournament, the swimmers will compete in a variety of events including the 1 meter dive, 3 meter dive, 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 medley relay, 400 free relay and 800 free relay.
The tournament starts each day at 11 or 11:30 a.m. MST and the last events start from 8 to 9 p.m. MST.
A Pac-12 tournament win will not only affect them personally, but it will make a huge impact on the future of the ASU swim and dive program. The Sun Devils are now looking to flip the switch for the year and win their first Pac-12 title in school history.
"It's all about momentum," Bybee said. "I think momentum is one of the most powerful things in the world and I think we already have it on our side. Being able to win the Pac-12 tournament would get the whole program moving and striving even further in the right direction."
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the record of the women's swim and dive team in the subheading. The story was updated at 7:40 p.m. on Feb. 23 to correct the error.