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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Last lap for swim senior

Kevin+Brost+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0ASwimmer+Emma+Darlington+during+a+routine+practice+at+Hillenbrand+Aquatic+Center+on+October+12%2C+2011.
Kevin Brost
Kevin Brost / Arizona Daily Wildcat Swimmer Emma Darlington during a routine practice at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center on October 12, 2011.

After redshirting for the 2010 season with a shoulder injury, Arizona swimming senior Emma Darlington is back in the pool, and excited about it.

Darlington has been a member of the swim team since 2007, helping lead Arizona to its only NCAA championship in 2008. In 2009, her junior year, Darlington was named an All-American in the 200-meter freestyle relay.

But prior to last season, she was feeling discomfort in her left shoulder, the same shoulder that plagued her enough to require surgery in the summer heading into her sophomore year.

“It just wasn’t feeling great, and I felt that there was something wrong from the first surgery,” she said. “I got three cortisone injections. That didn’t help, so finally they said they were going to have to open me up and see what’s going on.”

Doctors later found out that her shoulder capsule was loose, meaning that her shoulder was able to pop in and out of place. The Tucson native then underwent her second surgery in two years and was unable to compete with the team.

“I was really bummed to miss last year because I started with that class, and to not be able to leave with them was sad,” Darlington said.

Now that she’s back on the deck, Darlington is ready to make a splash, much in the way she had been since she set foot on campus almost five years ago.

“My main goal this year is to be on a national championship winning relay,” she said. “It doesn’t matter which one; we’ve got a lot of talented girls that are vying for those four spots. It’s going to be tough, but I think it’s going to be a fun journey. I’m looking forward to March.”

While she obviously has big plans for the end of the season, Darlington realizes that there is still a season to be played out, and that she is going to be looked at as a leader due to her experience.

“I know what it takes to win, and I see that we have everything that we had in 2008, and we’re taking it a step further, and by knowing that I’m able to inspire them more,” she said. “We all have that one goal of winning this year, and just by knowing what it takes, I think the girls get really excited about that. It helps.”

Darlington’s focus, as well as the focus of the new coaching staff, is making sure that she has the stamina and is prepared to race.

Her sprint coach, Rick DeMont, who has been with the team for 22 seasons, said he expects big things from his most experienced swimmer.

“If you would have asked me three months ago, I would have said ‘not much,’ but now I’m expecting her to do her best times, and be a big contributor to the team,” DeMont said.

DeMont is also very proud of the way she has handled her return to the water.

“Honestly, I didn’t think she would be here with us, because she’s had some bad experiences with her shoulder that I really thought would shut her down, so just the fact that she’s here is a testament to her determination and what she wants to get out of this sport,” he said. “I’m impressed.”

Head coach Eric Hansen also expects great things from Darlington in her “last lap” around the pool. Hansen, who admittedly is still getting to know Darlington, still recognizes the potential that she has for this season.

“I’m learning a lot about Emma and her leadership is something that’s invaluable to us and she has competed at a high level,” Hansen said. “It’s great to have her representing our team the way she does.”

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