BOISE, Idaho-Boise State swimming and diving starts its new season of venturing into uncharted waters with a familiar feel. The Broncos will start their first season in the Mountain West with a home meet Saturday, Oct. 8, against in-state rival Idaho. The meet begins at noon at the Boise-West Family YMCA and Aquatic Center.
Admission is free and the first 25 Boise State students get a free t-shirt.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS: Boise State returns 16 letterwinners from last year's Western Athletic Conference Champions. The Broncos won 10 events, including all five relays, en route to posting the ninth-highest point total in meet history (835) and taking their second-straight conference crown. Amber Boucher was named the WAC Swimmer of the Year for the second-consecutive season, and head coach Kristin Hill was named Coach of the Year. Boucher and fellow senior Stephanie North competed at the 2011 NCAA Championships.
ABOUT THE VANDALS: Idaho enters the 2011-12 season with a new coaching staff, headed up by Mark Sowa. Sowa most recently spent three years as the head coach at Wagner. Assistant coach Ashley Jahn and diving coach Chelsea Oates are also new to the Vandals this year. Idaho finished eighth at the 2011 WAC Championships.
THE SERIES: The Broncos took their first lead in the all-time series last season with a 160-83 win in Moscow. Boise State has now won three-straight dual meets against Idaho, and leads the series 3-2.
EXPERIENCED PEERS: Leading the Broncos are two seniors who return from trips to the NCAA Championships. Boucher and North became the first student-athletes to represent Boise State at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships last season, where they each competed in three events.
"For them to come back and tell the team what NCAAs was like, is something a lot of other teams don't have the opportunity to do," Hill said. "There's no reason why we can't have more teammates join them there this year."
Boucher earned the first All-America honor in program history with a 12th-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly. Her time at the WAC Championships was the seventh-fastest in the country last year, and she is the third-fastest returner nationwide in the event.
North carried the momentum into the summer where she advanced to the finals of the 100-meter freestyle at summer nationals. She clocked the 80th-fastest time in the world at the time, and it still ranks in the top 30 in the U.S. this year.
A NEW MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB: After rising from worst to first in four short years in the WAC, and closing out their five-year run in the conference with a second-straight title, the 2011-12 Broncos face a new challenge in a new league. Boise State enters the Mountain West this season ready to take on the new test. The Broncos were picked to finish second in the conference this season in the preseason coaches' poll. Boise State will host three dual meets against conference opponents before the MW Championships Feb. 22-25, in Oklahoma City. The Broncos welcome New Mexico (Oct. 14 and 15) and Colorado State (Jan. 28) to the West YMCA during the season.
FRESH FACES: Head coach Kristin Hill and the Broncos welcome nine freshman to the fold this season. Seven swimmers and two divers look to make their mark on the program and follow in the footsteps of those before them. A Boise State freshman has won at least one individual conference championship each of the past three seasons. Who will it be this year?
"It's hard to say who is going to stand out in this group," Hill said. "We are really looking forward to what they can do in our training program. These girls all need something different and we work hard to make sure they get that."
The Northwest Crown: In its final two weekends of the 2010-11 season, Boise State swimming and diving staked its claim to the unofficial title as Northwest Champions. With dual-meet wins against Washington State (Jan. 21), Idaho (Jan. 22), Seattle (Feb. 5) and Oregon State (Feb. 5), the Broncos defeated each Division I swimming program in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
"One of our goals is to be the premiere swimming and diving program in the Northwest," Hill said. "Right now we are on the right track."
There will be no chance at a repeat this season as the Broncos do not compete against Washington State.