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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Failure to reach team goals provides life lessons

    Swimming and diving season recap

    One year ago, Arizona’s swim and dive teams captured national championships, the first for both of head coach Frank Busch’s men’s and women’s programs. This year, one question loomed.

    “”How do you go about the year after?”” said senior Anna Turner. “”It’s not going to be handed to you.””

    With that, both teams set out for a repeat – the women, relying on a steady senior class and the younger men’s team hoping to make up for the loss of two graduated stars. Through a season of dual meets, it appeared that both teams would have a shot at their respective titles.

    The women won the illustrious Texas Invitational early in the season, and during a dual meet the men upset a then-ranked No. 1 Texas Longhorn team. Although such accomplishments would seem to satisfy the Wildcats, they didn’t.

    Their goals were national championships, and because of that, reviewing their season can be condensed into reviewing their performances at the NCAA meet.

    “”If I said I wasn’t disappointed and I was happy with the way it turned out,”” senior Taylor Baughman said, “”that would be a lie. I honestly feel like we fell short of our goal.””

    Because of the large senior class, the women were the closer of the two teams to reach that goal. A painful disqualification in their 200-yard medley relay hurt their chances at a national title, but it wasn’t the only reason for a close defeat at the hands of the winner California and runner-up Georgia.

    Arizona rallied after the DQ, and whether those determined swims afterward would have occurred had the DQ not happened remains to be seen, Baughman said. In effect, playing the what-if game is pointless for the women.

    “”The goal the entire year was to repeat, and that didn’t happen,”” Baughman said. “”But I’m really proud of the way the team rallied after the DQ.””

    On the men’s front, a fairly young team had to make up for the losses of sophomore Cory Chitwood to injury and graduated elites in Darian Townsend and Albert Subirats. Both helped the 2008 team win it all. In the end, they didn’t have the numbers to keep up with other NCAA powerhouses.

    They finished sixth, and like the women, were disappointed in failing to reach their preseason goals.

    “”(Assistant coach) Rick DeMont used a good analogy,”” said junior Jake Tapp. “”When you’re body surfing and you’re trying to catch a wave, you don’t always catch a wave.

    “”And that’s what happened this time. We didn’t catch the wave,”” he added. “”There’s lots of waves, and we’ll get another chance.””

    Perhaps, they’ll catch that wave next year.

    “”I know they don’t want to go through another one of these,”” Busch said. “”They don’t want to come home without some wood (a swimming term for an NCAA championship trophy). I think they’ll be very motivated.””

    From the seniors who have exhausted their eligibility, swimmers and divers alike can take away a lesson or two. Whether they gather that from a DQ or a disappointing sixth place finish, the sport of swimming turned into a microcosm of life itself.

    “”You learn a lot more about yourself when things don’t go the right way,”” Turner said. “”You can plan for things and life will throw you curve balls. It’s just how you deal with that and how you rebound.””

    How Arizona will rebound can only be answered in, say, 352 days from today, when the women begin their 2010 NCAA championship meet. Until then, Busch can reflect and rest after a long and draining year.

    “”I can honestly say I was a little tired this year.”” Busch said, “”Not in a negative way, but from an energy standpoint. It was a long year, but these are great kids and it’s a privilege to work with them.””

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