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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Zim on Swim: Losses a blessing for ‘Cats

    Losing is not something that happens often to the Arizona’s swim and dive program, and from an outsider’s perspective, two dual meet losses could mar the teams’ success thus far.

    But don’t let the numbers fool you.

    In losing to USC in mid-November and to Stanford this past Saturday, neither the swimmers nor the coaches appeared flustered, pressured or worried about the outcomes. Such losses can be blessings in disguise.

    With teams like Stanford cruising through dual meets, will they have the same chip on their shoulder – that extra motivation to win – that Arizona will have when they meet again? Advantage: Wildcats.

    Will opposing teams have been humbled enough during the season – through the lessons learned in painful losses – to reach perfection by the end of it all? Again, advantage Arizona.

    “”If you ask them, ‘What’s more important, repeating as a national champion or winning this dual meet?’ they would all take repeating,”” head coach Frank Busch said after a win against California.

    The same mindset holds true for the losses as well.

    After the Stanford competition, Busch’s post-meet talk contained only praise and motivation. Similar to the recently inaugurated U.S. president, he preached change, asking every swimmer to make sacrifices for the good of the team.

    “”We can’t afford to have 20 oars in the water when we need 24,”” he told them. “”It doesn’t matter who you are or what you swim.””

    Team unity is the bond that Arizona swimmers and divers have relied upon when times are tough, and that may be what separates them from other top-notch schools.

    “”Arizona has four great coaches that work together so well,”” said senior Julie Stupp. “”They’re the ones that create the team atmosphere and they’re the ones who built this. Everyone is a reflection of the coaches.””

    In the end, Busch will not let his team use physical fatigue as an excuse for any loss. As the season progresses, he raises the bar of expectations.

    By simultaneously challenging the minds and bodies of their athletes, the Arizona coaching staff also hopes to bring them closer.

    “”People respect each other for their sacrifices, for their dedication and for their hard work,”” Busch said. “”When that happens, it makes for a great family and I really think this is a great family.””

    Unlike football or basketball, in which rankings and statistics determine whether a team makes a BCS bowl or the Big Dance, swimming teams do not have the same pressure to win every competition. What matters is the number of automatic NCAA qualifications a team earns and how those qualifiers produce when it counts.

    The Wildcats already have a slew of automatic bids for the national championships. The swimmers’ focus on their intensive training will make or break their later success, not the number of wins in dual meets.

    As the NCAA championships loom, Arizona will rely on the mantra, “”hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”” And who knows, maybe the swimmers are lying in the weeds, waiting for one of those “”talented”” teams to slip come championship time.

    – Kevin Zimmerman is a journalism sophomore. He can be reached at

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