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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Gutty effort a necessity for Arizona swim and dive

The UA swim and dive team will be in the Bay Area this weekend taking on some of the country’s best competition: Stanford and California. As all three programs have sat atop the swimming world for quite some time, there is certainly history between the schools.

“”We have always had a strong rivalry with Stanford and Cal just because of the success that all of our teams have had at NCAAs,”” said senior swimmer Jack Brown. “”It’s a conference meet, and these are the guys that we are going to be racing on the national scene as well.””

The No. 2 UA women’s team has struggled against No. 3 Stanford in the past, including a one-point loss last season in the Bay Area. With a sour taste still lingering in the mouths of the women’s squad, they would love nothing more than to avenge last season’s loss and take down the Cardinal.

“”There’s always been this history between us and them,”” said sophomore Alyssa Anderson. “”We would love to come into their home and beat them up. That would be awesome.””

It is going to take a gutsy effort for the Wildcats to leave Northern California 4-0, especially when the emphasis of these mid-training meets is more about effort and focus than end result.

But the idea of taking down top-notch teams like Stanford and Cal — both have men’s and women’s teams ranked in the top-five — makes these world-class athletes try their best to forget about the aches and pains and work that much harder to touch the wall first.

“”The races will be bloodbaths for sure,”” Anderson said. “”Gutting-it-out, whoever-wants-it-more type races. We’re both in season; we’re both tired. But these races are the truest test of character and the type of swimmer that you want to be known as, doing it for your team under any circumstances.””

Although the dual meet season — where the UA is combined 7-0 thus far — has nowhere near the same importance as Pac 10s and NCAAs, now is the time when good teams really hit their stride. With five to six weeks until conference meets and three top-five schools on deck — Stanford and Cal this weekend, and Texas next weekend — Arizona can certainly use this weekend to come together and build toward a national title.

In fact, Brown is certain that this weekend, two years ago, set the tone for Arizona’s 2008 championship run.

“”Two years ago, when we won a national championship, I felt like this meet was the meet that our teams really came together and kind of where we started our run at a championship,”” Brown said. “”I think this meet is a really important stepping stone for everything that’s to come.””

Anderson, who was a senior in high school in 2008, was at these very same meets as a spectator two years ago. She could see from the stands that Arizona was poised for a national title.

“”There was no doubt that they won that year because you could tell that there was something that was just clicking,”” Anderson said.

While Anderson was simply a witness then, she is now a participant experiencing that very same feeling herself.

“”The coaches have said, ‘You know this is looking a lot like 2008′,”” Anderson said. “”Everyone’s on the same page this year with really high goals that if we just stick to who knows what can happen.””

With tired legs and exhausted minds, the UA swim and dive team will need to show unbelievable heart and determination this weekend. If that happens, it may be a stepping-stone toward a national title, a la 2008.

But, according to head coach Frank Busch, all of that depends on mentality and focus.

“”This is one of those weekends where we could come back 0-4 or we could come back 4-0,”” Busch said. “”It just depends on how prepared they are for this meet, what they’re thinking about and how our kids react to them.””

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