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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Swim and dive finally off deck

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildca
UA Swimming meets California in an NCAA swimming meet in Tucson, Ariz., Friday, Jan. 23, 2008.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildca UA Swimming meets California in an NCAA swimming meet in Tucson, Ariz., Friday, Jan. 23, 2008.

The UA swimming and diving teams will take their first steps towards returning to national championship prowess today at 2 p.m. as they host their first event of the season, a dual meet featuring the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Wisconsin.

Both the men’s and women’s teams won national championships two seasons ago, but couldn’t reproduce that success last season. The women’s team finished third at the NCAA championships last season while the men’s team posted a sixth place finish.

It will be up to Arizona’s elite seniors to avenge their disappointing 2008-09 campaign and get back to the top of the NCAA.

“”This is a very unique position that we’re in this year because we have the largest senior classes in all of the years that I’ve been at Arizona,”” said 21-year head coach Frank Busch. “”I really believe this: as the senior class goes, these teams will go.””

The men’s team will welcome back a strong group of seniors in Jack Brown, Jean Basson and Jordan Smith. Brown is coming off of a U.S. National Team nomination for his accomplishments this summer, and Basson is looking to defend his Pac-10 and NCAA individual titles in the 500-yard freestyle.

That trio, along with a solid core of sophomores, will look to make another NCAA championship run this season.

“”I think the senior class sets the tone that the rest of the team follows,”” Brown said. “”I think it’s a trickle-down effect. When the senior class is focused and works hard, I think everyone looks and kind of jumps on board.””

Unlike the men’s squad, the women’s group lost several All-Americans to graduation, including 50-yard freestyle sensation Lara Jackson. But with some solid new group of freshman and transfers, along with a good core of returning seniors, this group has high hopes.

“”It was a huge learning experience for us last year,”” said senior Ana Agy. “”I think the whole senior class this year is really excited to lead the team to try to attempt another NCAA championship.””

Although last year didn’t go quite as smoothly as one might expect from a team coming off two national championships, the Wildcats are excited to get back in the water this afternoon and see what they can do.

“”I want to see how my team comes together in the very first competition,”” Busch said. “”I want to see what their personality is.””

While Busch doesn’t exactly know what he will see in today’s meet, he is quite confident that this group will be back in the national championship discussion by season’s end.

“”Both of these teams will be in the thick of things for the national title,”” Busch said. “”Once you win something, you want to win it again.””

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