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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Building blocks for NCAA success

In 2008, the UA men’s swim and dive team marched into Northern California and knocked off Stanford and California. Players and coaches alike made it clear that the pair of victories was a building block to a special national championship season.

This past weekend, both the men’s and women’s teams traveled back to the Bay Area for the same meets. Although the women dropped both dual meets, the No. 3 men’s team pulled out two dramatic victories, once again leaving them with that feeling which led to a national championship two years prior.

“”It was unbelievable how much energy there was between us and how much trust there was in each other,”” said senior co-captain Jean Basson. “”I’ve never experienced anything to that extreme in a dual meet in my four years here.””

In Saturday’s action, the UA men’s team erased a 40-point deficit in cold and rainy conditions against No. 4 Cal en route to an impressive 157-141 victory.

“”Just knowing that, even in the worst type of circumstances — terrible weather, rain, being freezing cold, being behind by a bunch of points, being away at another team’s pool on their senior day — we can still kind of pull it out and pull out all of the stops, that’s huge for our confidence,”” said Jean Basson.

While Basson won both of his individual events on the day, the Cal victory was the epitome of a team effort. Even junior diver Ben Grado made an impact in the final tally, winning both the 1- and 3-meter events to give the Wildcats a much-needed boost in points.

“”Ben did a great job this weekend,”” said head coach Frank Busch. “”He’s going to be critical in helping our men.””

The victory against Cal proved the resiliency and hunger of the men’s team. They fought back against all odds only 24-hours after coming from behind to defeat No. 2 Stanford 174-124 under the very same conditions.

“”Winning against Stanford definitely drained us physically and emotionally,”” Basson said. “”Then to come back the next day with a bigger, come-from-behind victory, it was amazing.””

Grado and sophomore diver Andres Guerra were also huge in the Stanford victory, outscoring Cardinal divers 25-11.

The No. 2 women’s squad didn’t shine quite as bright in the Stanford meet, as it fell 173-125. The women also lost the battle against No. 5 Cal, 165-134.

“”The girls probably learned a little bit more about themselves as a team,”” Busch said. “”They learned kind of what it’s going to take for them to be as good as they can be.””

In 2008, it was outstanding performances in these very meets that marked the beginning of a national championship run. Two years later, the Wildcats rose to the occasion again and put on a display of great swimming, fueled by teamwork, trust and desire.

“”I think the men were certainly focused and determined this weekend,”” Busch said. “”In regards to having something in their sights, the men certainly do right now. They feel like they’re lined up for what they want.””

The teams will continue their road toward the NCAAs this Friday and Saturday as they host swimming super-power University of Texas.

After this weekend, the men’s team will have faced off against the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 teams all in a two-week span, a challenge that Busch believes will help the team greatly when March rolls around.

“”It’s how you get better,”” Busch said. “”If you want to get better, you’ve got to compete against the best.””

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