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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Men’s swim seeking yet another 1st

    The No. 1 Arizona men’s swimming team achieved several program firsts this season.

    It finished undefeated in dual meets (9-0) – beating Texas along the way for the first time in head coach Frank Busch’s 18-year stint with the team – qualified 13 swimmers for the NCAA championships later this month and earned the program’s first-ever top ranking.

    One thing that could elude the Wildcats this season, however, is a Pacific 10 Conference championship. Stanford has won 26 straight conference titles. Despite that, Arizona thinks it could be primed to dethrone the Cardinal this weekend at the Pac-10 conference men’s swimming championships in Long Beach, Calif.

    The team will undoubtedly be focused on trying to knock off Stanford this weekend to attempt to add to its historic season, and the biggest reason is the coaching staff.

    “”We have absolutely one of the best groups of coaches I’ve ever seen,”” said senior co-captain Bart Steninger. “”The only thing they think about is how to make us better. They’re always thinking about the next step.””

    The key for Arizona to break Stanford’s streak will be how its relay teams perform, and if the rest of the season is any indication, this could be the year Stanford doesn’t come through.

    Arizona hasn’t lost a relay event in a dual meet all year and relays will be a huge factor in the Pac-10 championships, as they count for double the number of points.

    With two relays slated for the first day of action, the 200-yard medley relay and 800y freestyle relay, Arizona could get off to a fast start by sweeping those events.

    “”I don’t see us losing any relays really,”” said senior Darian Townsend.

    Another key to the meet will be not just how many events the team can win, but how many people place in the events as well. Townsend said seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths will play a huge role in Arizona’s chances for a Pac-10 title because the more people who score points, less points are available for other teams.

    One potential roadblock for Arizona could be the fact that Stanford will be tapered – each swimmer’s body will be shaved – in an attempt to keep its streak alive and only 10 Arizona swimmers will be shaved for the meet, 10 swimmers who have yet to meet the NCAA qualifying times for the NCAA championships in three weeks.

    “”To us, this is just all about getting up and racing people when you’re not quite right,”” Busch said of the whole team not being tapered. “”If you can do that, the psychological advantage is tremendous.””

    Along with its No. 1 ranking, Arizona could potentially bring a new swagger to the meet. Senior women’s swimmer Lacey Nymeyer gave a speech to the team last week saying it needs to act like it is the No. 1 team in the country and walk onto the pool deck like it owns it. That message seemed to hit home as the women’s team won its third straight Pac-10 title and the men’s squad hopes to continue that trend.

    “”Our team is such a strong and motivated team,”” Steninger said. “”Usually we get blown out by Stanford but we blew them out this year; we embarrassed them really. But, Stanford is going to come to the Pac-10s really ready and it’ll be fun to see how we deal with that as a team.

    “”Not only are we capable of winning Pac-10s,”” Steninger added, “”but I think we’re capable of winning a national title, too.””

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