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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

No.1 Arizona men’s swim and dive enters Pac-10 Championships

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Jordan Slaughter

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 Jordan Slaughter Swim meet between the Arizona Wildcats, UNLV Running Rebels, and the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.

Although the Arizona men’s swim and dive team has been among the nation’s elite all season, the top spot in the nation always eluded it — until Monday.

The final poll of the season saw Arizona finish with 19 first-place votes, and the team will enter the Pacific 10 Conference Championships in Long Beach, Calif., today  as the nation’s top dog.

“”It feels really good, even though we knew we were number one after beating Texas. To have it be actually official is really special,”” said senior Jean Basson. “”It’s a great reward for all the hard work we have put in this season and the close meets we have won against the best teams in the country.””

The top ranking came as a result of consecutive late-January wins over the No. 2, 3 and 4 teams in the nation: Texas, Stanford and California. The team is excited about the honor but also realizes that its work isn’t finished.

“”It’s great to earn that number-one spot in the last coaches poll of the year,”” said senior Jordan Smith. “”But now we really have to be ready to defend our spot on top going into the championship season.””

Despite their place atop the rankings and their undefeated regular season, the Wildcats will have their hands full with stiff competition­— defending Pac 10 Champion Stanford, as well as No. 4 Cal and No. 14 USC.

“”We know that what we really want is the NCAA team title, and the fact that we did beat those teams in dual meets gives us a huge amount of confidence,”” Basson said.

The season-long focus for the men’s team has been to win a national championship, but despite the NCAA National Championships being right around the corner, the team can’t afford to look past the Pac-10 Championships.

“”(The Pac-10 Championships are) really important to us — not from a standpoint of winning the meet but rather racing hard and as fast as possible because it’s our last chance to do that before nationals,”” Basson said. “”We also have the chance to get a bunch more guys qualified for nationals, which is huge.””

The Pac-10’s will mark the last conference meet and second-to-last competition for a loaded senior class searching for a second national title in three years. The swimmers understand that the end is near, but they know that it isn’t over yet.

“”This whole season so far has kind of been a blur because I’ve been focusing so hard on getting myself and the team ready for right now,”” Basson said. “”But now that it’s championship season, I’ve slowed everything down, and I’m concentrating on what I want, and that is to make this my best season ever to help the team out as much as possible.””

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