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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    History on line for No. 3 men’s swimming vs. No. 1 Texas

    After another dominating performance in Northern California last weekend, the No. 3 Arizona men’s swimming team has a chance to do something that’s never been done in its history.

    When the No. 1 ranked Texas Longhorns visit the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center today at 2 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m., Arizona has a chance to go undefeated in dual meets over the course of the season and also has a chance to secure the nation’s top ranking, both would be for the first time ever, thanks in part to its dismantling of No. 2 Stanford last weekend.

    A win over the top ranked Texas squad would all but officially lock up the No. 1 ranking for Arizona heading in to the Feb. 16 contest against ASU and the Pacifc-10 Conference Championships in Long Beach, Calif. from March 5-8.

    “”I feel really good about where the team is right now,”” UA head coach Frank Busch said. “”We’ve been able to accumulate a lot of this kind of talent on both sides. They know they’re a good team and we’re all excited to be in the position that we’re in right now. We’re really excited about the future””

    These two teams have faced off against each other before this season and Texas came out on top 704-610.5 at the Texas Invitational in Austin from Nov. 29-Dec 1. Even though Texas beat the Wildcats by almost 100 points, Arizona expects things to pan out differently this time around.

    “”I think we’ve got to use all the momentum we’ve created (from last weekend) for when we race Texas. They’re probably the best team in college swimming at the moment,”” senior Darian Townsend said. “”The whole team is really excited to race Texas, especially at home and that could be big advantage for us. If we can beat them now, there’s no way we can’t beat them at the end of the year at NCAA’s.””

    Despite last weekend’s quality showing, Arizona knows better than to rest on their laurels. Busch said that it’s hard to predict anything based off of dual meets, no matter how well a team performs, because you can’t be certain as to how people are preparing for the meets since swimming is so different from other sports. In swimming, most teams train very hard in the middle of the season to try and qualify as many swimmers as possible for their respective conference championships and prepare for the NCAA championships, so it’s difficult to gauge how fresh everyone really is, Busch said.

    That aside, Arizona is still slicing through the water in record time. Senior Albert Subirats paced the team last weekend with his five individual wins – including setting a pool record at Stanford with a tie of 46.69 in the 100-yard butterfly – and helped the Arizona relay teams win all four events.

    Subirats said the relays are always key in dual meets because they’re worth more points than individual races. If Arizona can win all of the relays again this weekend, then they’ll put themselves in a great position to make history. Subirats added that the team has a big opportunity to show each other that they can do something great over the stretch run of the season.

    “”If you can swim fast times when you’re sore and tired, it becomes that much easier when you’re rested,”” Townsend said. “”You can create a whole bunch of confidence for yourself and having a bigger crowd to watch us race this weekend will just make it more exciting for us.””

    Into the diving well

    The men’s diving team will also square off against Texas on Friday and then have a platform diving exhibition at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The women will be practicing their diving on the platforms on Saturday also, but won’t be on the springboards on Friday.

    UA head diving coach Michele Mitchell said last weekend helped both the diving team and the swimming team to see what the level of competition is in the rest of the country. Based on their performance, Mitchell said Arizona is putting itself up there as one of the best programs, men’s or women’s, in the country.

    “”Our boys and their consistency over the past few years has raised some eyebrows of other teams because our guys aren’t well known as the lead horses in the race,”” Mitchell said. “”But, sometimes guys that sit in middle of pack surge forward and it seems like our guys have done a good job of surging forward.””

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