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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Swimming set to qualifying for nationals

    The Arizona swim and dive squads will embark on this semester’s most anticipated meet, at the Texas Invitational today through Saturday, providing the first opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships in March.

    “”It’s a very important meet for us,”” said UA swimming head coach Frank Busch. “”We’re trying to go there and make as many NCAA cuts as we can make. That’s the whole emphasis here.””

    In fact the Texas Invitational, which will take place at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, is the only time swimmers will shave for a meet – at least until the NCAA championships roll around. This gives the Wildcats a chance to produce their best times of the season.

    “”Our first semester, everything is geared towards this meet and our second semester is geared towards the NCAAs,”” Busch said.

    Arizona will go head-to-head with several top-25 teams, including Pacific 10 Conference rivals UCLA (19th ranked women) and ASU (25th ranked women), along with the No. 21 men’s and No. 14 women’s squads from Southern Methodist.

    The toughest competition, though, comes from the host school, Texas, with its No. 1 men’s team and No. 4 women’s team.

    Despite the depth and talent of the competition, Arizona swimmers will be more concerned about the times appearing on the scoreboard rather than how they stack up to their opponents.

    Compared to past years, potentially two-thirds the size of the women’s field could be eliminated from qualifying due to tougher time requirements, said senior Julie Stupp.

    “”The cuts this year are so much faster so there’s a lot more pressure for everyone,”” Stupp said. “”It’s a big difference.””

    More difficult times are demanded from the men as well. To help prepare for the higher standards, both teams took advantage of the extended weekend. While the Wildcats stayed in Tucson to practice, the y took Thanksgiving off and spent time with teammates instead of dealing with the daily grind of classes.

    “”We had a good break,”” Stupp said. “”It was fun to stay with the team. We all went to Frank’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.

    “”Everyone’s been really pumped in the last week,”” she added. “”I think everyone’s antsy, ready to get there.””

    Men’s swimmer Jordan Smith said an exciting part about the upcoming meet is seeing how the freshmen handle their first big meet.

    Among the top Wildcats performances this season, four such freshmen have been thrust into the spotlight. Andrew Callahan, A.J. Tipton, Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or and Alyssa Anderson all have at least one team-leading time in an event.

    Swimmers that have top times in multiple events include Stupp and junior Jenny Forster for the women and Smith and junior Bryan O’Connor for the men. Divers Ben Grado and Ainsley Oliver also look to continue their strong campaigns.

    Events will be separated throughout the three-day meet in both the swimming and diving competitions. Each day will begin with preliminaries at 10 a.m. and finals not beginning until 6 p.m.

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