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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Youth movement begins for UA swim

The UA swim and dive team overcame a great deal of adversity this season, but its biggest obstacle may not come until next season.

The team must replace the experience, talent and leadership of the departing senior class. This will be no easy task: The 14-athlete senior class is the biggest in the program’s history and maybe the most successful, considering that they won the program’s lone national title.

Gone are All-Americans like Jean Basson and Annie Chandler; in is a large group of freshmen — young and talented but unproven at the collegiate level.

“”Every year is a new year,”” said head coach Frank Busch. “”The enthusiasm with the freshmen will be different than the experience we are losing with the seniors.””

The incoming freshman class is even larger than the outgoing senior class. As of now, both the men’s and women’s teams will feature eight freshmen, Busch said.

“”It’s going to be a challenge to reload, but we have a great group of freshmen coming in,”” Busch said. “”For me as a coach, it is fun to see new people come in, but it is also sad to have to see others leave.””

While the freshmen are a talented group, Busch knows that it is hard to predict how 18 year olds will adjust to the pressure.

“”It’s hard to tell what the emotions will be,”” he said. “”We don’t know if people will come in with a ton of excitement or if they will come with a great deal of aggression.””

The team hopes the freshmen will make an impact, but its success will depend on the returning swimmers.

The upperclassmen have seen it all in their few years at the UA. They have experienced a team national championship, individual titles, injuries and viruses. Their experience and growth will be crucial next year.

“”A really good group of athletes return next year,”” Busch said. “”I don’t think that there is one specific person that we will look to, but we definitely will be depending on people who excelled at nationals, like Cory Chitwood and Ellyn Baumgardner.””

Baumgardner, a freshman, made a splash by almost defeating Chandler in the 100-yard breaststroke at nationals, and Chitwood put on a great performance, winning an individual national championship in the 200y backstroke.

Chitwood believes that the team’s overall performance at nationals is a sign of what is to come next year.

“”I think it sets us up awesome,”” he said. “”It’s going to be tough because we are going to be pretty young. We only have one senior, and we will have a lot of juniors and a lot of freshmen, so we are going to be young, but we are going to be pretty good. We are going to be something to deal with — that’s for sure.””

While Busch isn’t sure exactly what will happen next year, he likes the team’s position.

“”I like our program,”” he said. “”Each year, I think we have a chance to contend for a national championship, and hopefully that continues next year.””

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