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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    M-swim aims for ‘back-to-back’ titles

    After watching what its female counterparts accomplished in Columbus, Ohio last week, the No. 1 Arizona men’s swim team hopes to bring a second national championship to Tucson this year.

    “”I think anything can happen and we’re certainly one of the favorites,”” said UA head swim coach Frank Busch. “”It really helps when our women do so well because our guys look at that and it just builds their confidence so any doubts are quickly erased.””

    The Arizona women’s swim team made history by being the first school to sweep all five relay events in an NCAA championship meet (200-yard freestyle, 400y medley, 200y medley, 800y freestyle and 400y freestyle) and did so in a truly record-setting fashion. All five UA relay teams broke the meet record in each event and also set American, NCAA and U.S. Open records in every event except the 800y freestyle.

    The UA men took third in the 200y freestyle relay at the Pacific 10 Conference Championships three weeks ago, but the majority of the squad was un-tapered – their bodies weren’t clean shaven – so the team expects its times to be much faster now.

    “”A sweep of the relays is definitely possible for us too because we have some amazing relays,”” said co-captain Bart Steninger.

    “”Statistically, the 200 free is our worst relay, so that one will be close. It’s also the race that starts off the meet, so how we do there could determine how the team is gonna go.””

    Another positive for Arizona is the fact it brings a total of 14 swimmers to the NCAA championships. While winning events would help score points, if enough swimmers can qualify for final heats and place in the top 10, it would help almost as much. The Arizona women only won two individual events, but several swimmers placed in the top 10 or top 15 and earned valuable points toward their team title.

    “”It’s got to be a whole team effort from the 14 swimmers and one diver,”” Steninger said. “”That’s what it’s gonna come down to. Auburn and Texas are really strong, and also Florida, so it’ll be coming down to kind of nickel and diming people.””

    Arizona already beat Texas in a dual meet in early February in Tucson, so getting past five-time defending national champion
    Auburn should prove to be the main obstacle for the Wildcats now.

    “”It’d be really nice to (win a championship) for Coach. He’s waited so long and to finally get his first one with the girls was huge,”” Steninger said. “”To go 0-for-18 and then get two in two weeks, that would be pretty sweet.””

    Into the diving well

    Arizona freshman diver Ben Grado qualified for the 2008 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships in Seattle and has a chance to earn points toward a potential second title for the swimming programs.

    “”It’s a bit unusual for a freshman to make it to nationals, but he was real solid and was (diving) the way he has been all year,”” said Arizona head diving coach Michele Mitchell.

    The NCAA Zone E Championships in Oklahoma City two weeks ago were somewhat bittersweet for Arizona as senior and team leader Matt Bisordi fell short in his attempt to qualify for his first NCAA finals, but Mitchell was still proud of the team’s overall performance.

    “”I always tell my athletes that the sport of diving is about friendships and what it teaches you,”” Mitchell said. “”It helps mold your character and those are the truly important things you’ll carry with you throughout your life.””

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