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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona swimmer Cordes feels at home at UA

Turki Allugman
Turki Allugman / The Arizona Daily Wildcat Kevin Cordes of the UA swimming team practices at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center on Oct. 3, 2012.

Sophomore Kevin Cordes is now one of Arizona’s top swimmers, but he didn’t always want to be a swimmer.

When he was younger, Cordes played basketball, baseball and football in addition to swimming. Cordes dropped football after his freshman year in high school, when he was convinced he had the potential to be one of the best swimmers in the world.

“Kevin has true passion and an excellent work ethic,” head coach Eric Hansen said. “He has consistently motivated himself to work hard and succeed.”

While swimming for Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Ill., Cordes set the 100 breaststroke school record, lettered for four years and earned four all-state and three all-Conference honors.

Coming from a family of UA alumni, Cordes was immediately drawn to Arizona after graduating.

“Both of my parents attended Arizona,” Cordes said. “My dad played football here in the ‘80s and I feel at home here.”

In his first college tournament and fourth meet as a Wildcat last December, Cordes began to establish the foundation of his promising aquatic career when he decreased his personal best time by nearly two seconds, earning a 51.76 in the 100 breaststroke at the Texas Invitational. He also compiled a respectable 1:53.55 in the 200 breaststroke.

“I think he can repeat his success,” Hansen said. “No doubt about it. He knows that he can’t become complacent.”

As the year progressed, more of Cordes’ talent began to show with his performance at his first NCAA Division I National Championships. Cordes compiled a 51.32 in his 100 breaststroke at the preliminaries, breaking an American record and shaving seconds off his time. He then went on to win his first national championship.

“It felt amazing to win an individual national title as a freshman,” Cordes said. “My first year was a great experience.”

Subsequently, he lowered his personal-best in the 200 breaststroke by nearly three seconds while earning a 1:51.97 and placing third.

Cordes was also part of the team that set the national record for the 200 medley with a time of 1:23.53 and had a personal split of 23.25. He was awarded All-American honors four times during the year.

“Setting the record for the 200 medley felt amazing,” UA swimmer Mitchell Friedemann said. “Because it was a relay, it was pretty special to accomplish something like that while being dependent on three other swimmers. Everything had to go right.”

During his freshman year, Cordes trained with some of the country’s best breaststrokers, including Olympian Amanda Beard and others from the US National team.

Cordes, in possession of two American records and two national championships at the conclusion of his freshman year, was invited to participate in the US Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.,looking to drop his time even more at the trials. The 18-year-old ultimately finished third, with less than half a second after the top two finishers who continued on to London.

“It felt pretty good to compete against the world’s top swimmers,” Cordes said. “Before coming to college, I never thought I had a chance to make the [Olympic] team, but placing third taught me a lot about my potential and how close I was to fulfilling my dreams.”

As Cordes prepares for another tough season, he said he hopes that he will continue to improve.

“My goal is Rio 2016,” Cordes said. “This year, I plan to improve my times from last year, work as hard as I can in NCAA relays and bring more championships to Arizona.”

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