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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Tough opponents loom for both Arizona men’s and women’s swimming and diving

After back-to-back home meets against top-ranked Stanford and Cal, Arizona men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams head to Austin, Texas, for another weekend matchup.

The No. 14/14 Arizona men’s and women’s teams race in a two-day double-dual meet against Southern Methodist University and Texas, which currently holds the top spot in men’s NCAA rankings and is No. 5 for the women. 

With last week’s contests behind them, the Wildcats are propelling themselves forward with the mindset that racing these multi-threat teams can only help their performance in the long run.

Arizona men’s swimmer and last year’s 50-yard freestyle NCAA champion Brad Tandy said it’s tough on players both mentally and physically.

“It’s a struggle, probably more mentally than physically,” Tandy said. “Once you figure out it’s an opportunity to race these guys, you use it as an advantage.”

If the collective Arizona swim club can look at it the same way Tandy does, the opportunity for success is great. The Texas men presently hold the top times in America for five individual events — the 100y and 500y free, 200y breaststroke, and 100y and 200y butterfly — and for the 200y medley relay and 200y freestyle relay.

The Longhorns are especially well-equipped in the 100y butterfly event, where seven swimmers are ranked in the top 16.

Arizona hosted Texas on this same weekend last season but fell short of a victory on both the men’s and women’s sides.

One key stroke for the Wildcats to master this weekend is the breaststroke. In the women’s events, there will be a rematch between last year’s victor and the NCAA’s current No. 1 100y breaststroke swimmer, Texas senior Gretchen Jaques, and Arizona junior Emma Schoettmer, who placed second behind Jaques in both the 100y and 200y. 

SMU senior Rachel Nichol shouldn’t be overshadowed in the event, either. Nichol will be hunting for a qualifying time in the 100y breaststroke this weekend.

Arizona’s two-time defending national champion Kevin Cordes will face a rematch against Texas sophomore Will Licon in the 100y and 200y breast. The two went head-to-head last year, with Cordes sweeping both events and contributing to a Wildcat victory in the 200y medley relay as well.

For the men to compete with the top team in the country this time around, seniors Tandy, Cordes and Brian Stevens will have to step up and lead by example. Junior diver Rafael Quintero also serves as a key leader and weapon for Arizona.

“I would hope that, because it’s them, they bring a better game,” Arizona coach Rick DeMont said. “When the stakes are higher, they [rise] up.”

This is Arizona’s second-to-last dual meet before the Pac-12 Championships in Federal Way, Wash., starting on Feb. 25 for the women and Feb. 26 for the men. The Wildcats host Pac-12 rival ASU for their last home meet on Feb. 7.

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Follow Nicole Cousins on Twitter.

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