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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

ASU meet takes on new meaning

This Saturday the rivalry continues. The UA swim and dive team will be traveling up to Tempe this weekend to conclude its dual meet season against rival Arizona State.

“”Of course we always want to beat our rival, so we’ll go into the meet hungry to race, but we’ve already faced our toughest regular-season opponents,”” said senior co-captain Jordan Smith.

The meet this weekend has a new angle that has never played a role before: the Territorial Cup. Swimming never previously factored into the point system that determines the winner of the cup, but thanks to remodeling courtesy of new sponsor State Farm, the school that finishes higher at the Pacific 10 Championships in two weeks will determine which school receives a point. This weekend is a preview to the showdown that will go down in Long Beach, Calif., for swimmers, and Seattle for divers. 

The rivalry may be stronger than ever due to the new cup rules, but the UA comes in as a clear favorite. Both the ASU men and women are struggling this season, especially in Pacific Conference 10 meets. The ASU swim program is still in a rebuilding process since the program has only been reinstated in the past few years.

“”Our mentality is that this is our last regular-season meet of the year and we want to use it as an opportunity to race and keep building on the confidence we’ve gained throughout the season,”” Smith said.

Smith and the No. 3 UA men are coming off a stretch in which they beat three of the top four teams in the country, including a home win against top-ranked Texas. That win will most likely make the Wildcats the new top-ranked team when the next rankings are announced.

The No. 2 women’s team bounced back after tough losses in the Bay Area by dominating Texas two weeks ago.

“”You can feel the excitement building in the locker room,”” said senior Ana Agy, who won 12 individual events in January. “”I think we are ready to have some great performances.””

Many talented swimmers will be on display Saturday, but the most entertaining match-up may be on the diving side. The diving events will feature the last two Pac-10 divers of the month. ASU’s Cameron Bradshaw won the award in December, while UA’s Ben Grado was announced Thursday as the conference’s top diver for January. Grado finished first in five events last month.

On Thursday, UA sophomore Cory Chitwood was also announced as the Pac-10 swimmer of the month. Chitwood posted six first-place finishes in January. He currently ranks first nationally in the 200-yard backstroke and second in the 100y backstroke.

After this weekend, the UA will turn its attention to the Pac-10 tournament and, ultimately, the NCAA tournament.

“”We’ve definitely started to prepare for the championship meets both mentally and physically,”” Smith said. “”The guys still trying to get their qualifying times for NCAAs are resting for the Pac-10 championships and everyone else is just about to start resting.””

Swim coach Frank Busch estimates that the team has met about 90-95 percent of its standards for the NCAAs already.

“”We want to get our athletes to swim faster through each competition,”” said Busch of his team’s focus.

 

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