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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Swim starts title defense

    After making program history last year by winning national championships, the Arizona men’s and women’s swim teams kick off their respective seasons against Wisconsin today, but they’ll do so in a new pool.

    The Hillenbrand Aquatic Center didn’t move or change names. It just got a makeover during the offseason, thanks in part to the dual national championship squads. The Wildcats now boast a state-of-the-art facility with a pool built to NCAA and Olympic specifications for both swimming and water polo. There’s an entirely new dive tower, complete with a walk-in hot tub and on-deck showers for athletes to help prepare them for the next event.

    The dual-meet against the Badgers today at 2 p.m. will be the first time the Wildcats have a competitive race in their new domain, and they’ll have some new gadgets to play with.

    A high-resolution score board now sits across from the spectators’ seating area and the pool itself has some high-tech additions. There’s a digital video replay system complete with underwater cameras for the athletes to use so they can fine-tune their strokes and other aspects of their technique.

    “”The new pool is pretty amazing. It allows us to have a little bit more lane space,”” said senior Lara Jackson. “”We were never really that crowded, but just being able to go two in a lane, and the new blocks are awesome. It’s all pretty exciting.””

    Aside from their new surroundings, the Wildcats are just happy to be back in the pool and start defending their national championships. The women’s team will start the season as the nation’s top team while the men are ranked third.

    Part of the reason for the men’s team not receiving top billing is the loss of both Albert Subirats and Darian Townsend – the leaders of last year’s team and two-time Olympians. Despite losing so much leadership and experience, UA head coach Frank Busch doesn’t think that will faze this year’s squad, and he’s excited to see how they respond.

    “”I’m excited about (the men’s team) just like I’m excited about the women,”” Busch said. “”It’s a good group. We’ve got a couple of newcomers who are going to help us out. The women are going to be a team to be reckoned with, that’s for sure.””

    Auburn transfer Julie Stupp figures to play an important role on the team this year with her international and NCAA competition experience. Freshmen Alyssa Anderson and Genny Konicke should also factor into the equation for the Wildcats, Busch said, but the thing he’s looking forward to the most is seeing how this team can improve on last year’s success.

    “”There’s always room for improvement,”” Jackson said. “”We did really well last year, but one thing that Frank always says is, ‘The same is the same, and we’re not looking to be the same. We’re looking to be better.’

    “”The way that the team has been training this year,”” she added. “”I have no doubt in my mind that will happen for us.””

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