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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


New attitude shines in Swim and Dive opener

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

More than a year removed from two national championships, the UA swim and dive team needed a new mindset and focus to start this season. That change in mentality showed in the team’s convincing season-opening victory over UNLV and Wisconsin.

“”The mindset of this team so far has been where it was two years ago, not taking anything for granted,”” said senior Justine Schluntz. “”No matter how well we do, we’re definitely hungry.””

The Wildcats showed some of that hunger in their first meet of the season, as the men bested Wisconsin 190-103 and UNLV 161-119, while the women dominated the competition, beating UNLV 238-60 and Wisconsin 178-122.

Schluntz admitted that the team was a little too relaxed at the start of last season, but with a new mentality and some new swimmers in place, it showed how badly it wants to be back at the top.

Both the men’s and women’s teams started out with medley wins, and for the most part coasted for the rest of the meet. A slew of new swimmers impressed, and the senior leaders did what was expected of them.

But the most significant development of the meet came from a man who didn’t even swim last season: redshirt sophomore Cory Chitwood.

Chitwood, who missed all of last season due to shoulder surgery, picked up where he left off after his stellar freshman campaign, winning both of his individual events in his first meet in more than a year.

Chitwood won the 100-yard backstroke in 49.40 and the 200-yard backstroke in 1:47.90.

“”It’s great to see Cory race again,”” said head coach Frank Busch. “”To him this is very exciting, just to have the opportunity to come back and swim.””

No one was more excited to kick off the season than Chitwood.

“”I’ve been talking about (the meet) since last year at this time,”” Chitwood said. “”I mean, everyone else is looking forward to (the NCAA Championships) and world champ trials and I’m just looking forward to the Wisconsin dual meet.””

With so many freshmen and transfers, Chitwood wasn’t the only person looking forward to the race. Despite some apparent nerves, the UA newcomers performed considerably well.

Freshman Carl Mickelson stood out to Busch, winning the men’s 100y and 200y breaststroke. Mickelson finished faster than veteran Marcus Titus as he won the 100y with a time of 55.81. He also finished ahead of Titus and seniors Jack Brown and Clark Burckle in the 200y, posting a time of 2:04.53.

“”All of the freshmen and transfers, seeing how they stepped up at this meet, it’s a good sign for the rest of the year to see they’re willing to step up to the level we want to be at,”” Schluntz said.

Utah transfer Whitney Lopus was also among the impressive newcomers, winning the 100y butterfly and 200y butterfly, while finishing second in the 200y individual medley.

The seniors were solid as expected, and the new faces showed what they can do in the water, but Busch still thinks the team could use some work.

“”We had some pretty good performances, but we have some things we really need to work on,”” he said. “”We need to clean some things up but that’s OK. This time of year that’s kind of part of the deal.””

This is a time for the Wildcats to improve before the all-important Texas Invitational in a month, but the determination and focus among this team should speed up that process.

“”I think we learned we have a lot of heart on this team,”” Chitwood said. “”That’s definitely going to help us throughout the rest of the season.””

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