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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA swim and dive to visit White House

    UA swim and dive to visit White House

    Before his tenure comes to an end, President George W. Bush has one item on his agenda that does not include the economy, the war in Iraq, or his golf swing.

    In honor of their 2008 national championship seasons, the 2007-2008 UA swim and dive teams will travel to Washington, D.C., Tuesday, to meet President Bush at the White House.

    “”It’s a great honor, no question about it,”” head swimming coach Frank Busch said of the invitation. “”I’m just really excited for our kids.””

    Swimmers and divers from last season’s team, including remaining members, will celebrate the culmination of years of hard work with the president and other 2008 national champion athletes. Because he met the president while serving as an assistant coach for the U.S. team in Beijing, Busch said he is more anxious to see the team’s reaction to meeting the president.

    “”Some people never get within a mile of the president,”” Busch said. “”Being with him, shaking his hand, and having your picture taken with him is going to be pretty special.””

    Lacey Nymeyer, a 2008 Olympian and silver-medalist, exhausted her eligibility but will rejoin her teammates on the trek across the nation. She said Washington is a fitting place to celebrate the culmination of last year’s accomplishments.

    “”It’s symbolic that you win a national championship, and then you go to the capital of the nation to be honored,”” Nymeyer said. “”It’s a sweet little topping to the whole cake of the entire season and the entire program.””

    Busch said the swim and dive teams will arrive in the nation’s capital around 4 p.m. Tuesday and take a driving tour of the city after dinner, when the lighting is said to be spectacular. But the trip to Washington will not be a typical relaxing vacation.

    Practice has been scheduled to take place both Tuesday and Wednesday nights at the University of Maryland. With a trip to the Los Angeles area Friday to take on USC and UCLA, the Wildcats will be airborne much of the week and it is essential for them to take advantage of any available practice time, Busch said.

    The two practices only account for a small part of a busy itinerary, as the team will also have lunch at the Washington Monument, tour the White House, and take part in a reception with an alumni congressional delegation, Busch said.

    Senior Taylor Baughman, who last year took part in three NCAA championship relay teams, explained that while the trip is expected to be fun, it is “”imperative”” that the teams hit the water.

    “”Swimming is one of those sports where you’ve got to stay on top of it, because it’s really easy to lose your feel for the water,”” Baughman said. “”Yeah, it is a little bit of a buzz-kill, but it’s an absolutely necessary part of training.””

    Furthermore, the men’s and women’s teams will need to remain in top-notch shape with the Texas Invitational – a large meet from Dec. 4 to Dec. 6 – on the horizon.

    Some of the Wildcats also have some out-of-the-water business to attend to – shopping. The teams won’t be appearing before the president wearing just wife-beaters and flip-flops, after all.

    “”Everyone, I think, is out shopping today, because it’s a pretty strict dress code there,”” Baughman said Saturday. “”You obviously want to look your best.””

    Will the Washington visit officially close the book on a successful campaign, or will the momentum carry into the 2008-2009 season? Baughman said it may act as closure for the members whose UA swimming careers had ended, but she saw things differently for herself.

    “”It’s definitely motivating for me,”” Baughman said. “”Let’s do it again, let’s meet Obama next year.””

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