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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Senior claims first

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Swim meet between the Arizona Wildcats, UNLV Running Rebels, and the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat Swim meet between the Arizona Wildcats, UNLV Running Rebels, and the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.

Going into the final race of the NCAA Women’s Swim and Dive National Championships in West Lafayette, Ind., Arizona had already outperformed the expectations of many by even being in contention. The Wildcats went into their final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay, as one of four schools still alive for the National Championships.

The title within their grasp, the Wildcats ended up falling just short with a seventh-place finish in the race and a fourth place finish in the meet. They only scored 22.5 points less than Florida, who won with 382 points.

Arizona’s Pacific 10 Conference rivals in Stanford and Cal finished second and third respectively.

“”We could have won,”” said senior Annie Chandler. “”It came down to that final relay.””

While as a whole the team was unable to win a national championship, Arizona didn’t leave West Lafayette completely empty-handed.

The Wildcats continued their NCAA dominance in relay events.

“”Arizona has a tradition of excellence in the relays,”” Chandler said. “”We have been winning the medley relays since I was a freshman. It’s expected from us.””

For the third straight year at the NCAAs, the UA was National Champion in the 400y medley relay. Seniors Ana Agy, Justine Schluntz and Chandler, along with sophomore Whitney Lopus, defended their title in the race with a time of 3:29.76.

“”To be able to win this event three years in a row is amazing,”” Agy said. “”We didn’t necessarily talk about it a whole lot, but it was a goal of ours set at the beginning of the year.””

Agy, Schluntz and Chandler weren’t done winning the hardware. The three reunited to win the 200y medley relay with fellow senior Erin Campbell. The win was the first championship of Campbell’s UA career after her transfer from Washington.

The group set a facility record with a time of 1:35.75.

While Chandler has won many National Championships as a member of a relay team, an individual national championship had always alluded her — until this year.

Chandler dominated the 100y breaststroke, finally giving her that first individual National Championship.

“”I’ve been wanting to do it for so long. It has really tested my patience,”” Chandler laughed.

“”It’s definitely been a long time coming,”” she added. “”It’s something that I’ve been fighting for over these last three years.””

With a time of 58.06, Chandler didn’t just win the race but also set an NCAA record.

“”It was a complete shock,”” she said. “”The whole team just flooded the pool deck and they had tears in their eyes. It really was a cherry on top.””

After waiting four years for her first individual title, Chandler only had to wait two days for her next one. She came up just short of winning the 200y breaststroke by finishing third with a time of 2:07.68. While she didn’t win the race, Chandler did set a new UA record.

Another senior who shined in her final meet was Schluntz.

Not only was she a part of two relay championships, but she also found individual success by winning the consolation heat of the 50y freestyle with a time of 22.23. She also scored runner-up honors in the 100y freestyle consolation heat.

Schluntz’s relay teammate Campbell followed up her earlier relay championship with a seventh place finish in the championship heat of the 100y butterfly, earning her All-American honors.  Also scoring All-American honors was senior Leone Vorster, whose time of 1:45.15 was good for seventh in the 200y freestyle. Vorster also placed runner-up in the consolation heat of the 500y freestyle.

The 200y backstroke proved to be the most successful individual race for the UA with five Wildcat swimmers placing. Seniors Caitlin Iversen and Agy finished seventh and eighth in the championship heat of the race while the consolation heat featured top finishes by Campbell and fellow senior Jenny Forster.

While the seniors performed well in their final meet, the underclassman showed that the team will be in good hands next year. Freshman Ellyn Baumgardner put herself on the map by placing third behind Chandler in the 100y breaststroke.

Other stand-out performance by an underclassman was sophomore Alyssa Anderson who earned a win in the consolation heat of the 200y fly with a time of 1:55.13. Anderson also earned All-American honors with her seventh-place finish in the championship heat of the 500y freestyle.

Despite not winning the National Championships, the team isn’t looking at the season as a disappointment.

“”There definitely are mixed reactions,”” Chandler said. “”A lot of the first-timers didn’t know how to react, but this is not something that we can be disappointed about.””

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