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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona men’s and women’s swimming take on Stanford, Cal over weekend

So far this season, the Arizona women’s swimming and diving team feels like it’s just been in lap swim. The undefeated, 22-member squad has hardly faced a notable opponent, winning all but one meet by at least 45 points — it escaped No. 13 UCLA 155-145 back in November.

However, this weekend the No. 14 Wildcats will plunge head first into the icy-cold wrath of No. 3 Stanford and No. 1 California on back-to-back days.

It’s a daunting task, but one that junior standout Bonnie Brandon said her team has been waiting for.

“Our sport isn’t coming in here nine times a week and swimming back and forth,” Brandon said. “Our sport is when we finally have a chance to get up on the block and race someone.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams host ranked Stanford and Cal teams this weekend. The No. 7 Stanford men will join the women in Hillenbrand Stadium at 2 p.m. on Friday, while the No. 2 Cal men’s team accompanies its top-ranked counterparts Saturday starting at 11:20 a.m.

The No. 11 Arizona men were plagued early in the season with hefty losses, losing three of five meets and overcoming only UNLV and Missouri. Head coach Rick DeMont, though, said he thinks the team is right where it needs to be.

“This guys team has been through a lot,” DeMont said. “I think we now have a core group of guys that are all on the same page with the same motivations, and they’re all in it together.”

One of those guys, Kevin Cordes, won’t be the only high-profile swimmer making a splash in Tucson this weekend. World record holder and Olympian Missy Franklin will also be there to put on a spectacle.

“It’s always great to have great swimmers at Arizona swim at this pool,” said Cordes, who’s spent considerable time at elite levels like Franklin. “It’s great to have the best competition here. I know it brings out the best in me, and I’m sure it does with her.”

The 19-year-old sophomore Cal Golden Bear and four-time Olympic gold medalist has been ranked No. 1 in the world for three straight years, and is just one of 28 threats on the seemingly impenetrable Bears fleet.

“We’re coming upon the best teams in the country,” DeMont said. “In the next three weeks, we’re going against the absolute best.”

Franklin’s talent is no stranger to Brandon, as both grew up just down the street in Centennial, Colo.

But amidst all the hype, Brandon is taking it one step at a time.

“Our goal is to just get up there and race who we can and see what happens,” Brandon said with a smile.

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Follow Nicole Cousins on Twitter.

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