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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Commentary: Third place just right for swim, dive”

Just more than a week ago, the Arizona men’s swim and dive team was riding high.

The Wildcats finished their regular season undefeated and had just been voted the nation’s top team in the coach’s poll.

Then, in its debut as the top-ranked team, Arizona finished in third place at the Pacific 10 Conference Championships, more than 200 points behind first place Stanford. 

On the surface, finishing third out of five teams and losing by more than 200 points seems like it would be cause for concern for the men’s NCAA championship hopes, but that is not the case.

The results of the Pac-10 Championships won’t have any bearing come the NCAAs because conference tournaments in any sport don’t usually have much value besides entertainment.

With this year’s victory at the Pac-10 Championships, Stanford has now won 29 Pac-10 titles in a row. In that 29-year run, they have won seven national championships. As astounding as Stanford’s streak is, it has won the Pac-10 Tournament 22 times and failed to win a national championship.

On the other hand, the UA men have never won a Pac-10 Championship and did win a National Championship in 2008. That year, the Wildcats also finished third at the Pac-10s.

“”Considering what we did in 2008, I don’t think it (the Pac-10s) really has any bearing on the NCAAs,”” said senior Jean Basson.

It is natural to think that losing the Pac-10 Championships is a bad sign, but it isn’t any different than if this week college basketball’s top team Kansas lost to ninth-ranked Kansas State in the Big-12 tournament. If Kansas lost that game no one would start to question its NCAA tournament chances. 

The same rule applies to the UA swim team. 

The two teams that the UA lost to are Stanford and Cal, which are ranked third and fourth, respectively. 

“”Cal and Stanford definitely put a lot more emphasis on this meet than we did,”” Basson said. 

These losses shouldn’t have much effect in the long run, especially considering that the UA went to the Bay Area earlier this season and swept Stanford and Cal.

Another reason to not put too much into the UA’s performance at the Pac-10 Championships is that the team really doesn’t care about winning a Pac-10 title. 

“”Our priorities are different from other teams in our conference,”” said senior Jack Brown. 

The priority for most of the other schools at the championships was to win.  Many of the teams came fully shaved and rested. Swimmers usually don’t fully shave until the races get really serious. Some UA swimmers came shaved, but only the ones still hoping to make some of their NCAA qualifying times. While a Pac-10 title wasn’t high on the swimmers’ priority list, they did have some other goals to accomplish.

“”We did what we needed to do there,”” Brown said. 

The trip was a huge success in qualifying more swimmers. For the first time in the team’s history it will send a fully qualified team to nationals.

With the Pac-10s over and nationals coming March 25 in Columbus, Ohio, the team will begin to further step up its preparations. The swimmers will rest often and work on getting their mechanics right in the coming weeks. The team feels that with the extra rest they will be ready. 

“”Our focus is nationals and I think in a few weeks we will be at our peak,”” Basson said.  

Come March 27 we will all find out if the strategy was the right one.

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