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January 7, 2010

PLU Swimmers Return to Pool Against College of Idaho

THIS WEEKEND: Pacific Lutheran hosts College of Idaho in a pair of non-conference dual meets. The teams square off at 1 p.m. Saturday and again at 11 a.m. Sunday.

48 DAYS AGO: Pacific Lutheran returns to competition for the first time in 48 days this Saturday and Sunday when it hosts the College of Idaho Coyotes in a pair of non-conference duals at the PLU Pool. The annual holiday and semester break is longer than usual because the Lute didn't have a meet scheduled during the final week of November or into early December. The last time that PLU swam a competition event came at the Northwest Invitational on Nov. 21-22 in Portland, Ore. Since that time, there have been weeks of practice, a week of finals, and Christmas and New Year's celebrations for the PLU swimmers. PLU head coach Jim Johnson says that the lengthy break hasn't hampered his swimmers too much as judged by team workouts in the first week of January. "There's always a fall off over Christmas, but they really seem to be in relatively decent shape." Johnson added that there generally is some attrition to the roster during the break and that this year is no different with several team members either quitting the sport or not returning for the final half of the school year. "We're small in numbers, but we'll do fine for what we have on both the men's and women's teams."

ABOUT COLLEGE OF IDAHO: The Coyotes come into the weekend duals not having competed for a 35-day stretch. The Lutes are the fourth NCAA Division III opponent that the 'Yotes have faced this year, and C of I has yet to pick up a win in any of its men's or women's duals.

THE SERIES: Pacific Lutheran has never lost to the College of Idaho in the previous five dual meets between the programs. Last year, the Lutes swept the 'Yotes on consecutive days in Caldwell, Idaho, winning the women's meets 116-64 and 141-58, and taking the men's duals by 126-46 and 130-56 scores. In the series history only one of the competitions has been close, that an 83-71 win for the PLU men during the 2005-06 season. That was, incidentally, the College of Idaho's first year of collegiate swimming. 

FIRST STEP IN THE SEASON-ENDING PUSH: The Lutes will use the College of Idaho duals as the first step in a month-long push toward the Northwest Conference Championships scheduled for Feb. 12-14 at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. While not conference duals, "These are still important meets," Coach Johnson said of the non-conference clashes against C of I. While the Lutes have dominated the 'Yotes in the past, Johnson expects closer duals, particularly on the men's side with two of PLU's nine male swimmers suspended for breaking team rules. "We have seven guys this weekend, and we've got our work cut out for us."

LUTES BY THE NUMBERS: Pacific Lutheran's men and women are winless in three duals this season, but those losses came against what are regarded as the top programs in the Northwest Conference - Puget Sound, Whitworth and Whitman. Ahead for the Lutes are conference duals at Pacific (Jan. 15), at Linfield (Jan. 16), and at home against Lewis & Clark (Jan. 22) and Willamette (Jan. 30).

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