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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    M-swim preps to repeat title

    After months of physically-draining training routines – not to mention school – it all comes down to this.

    The Arizona men’s swimming and diving team will take their shot at a national championship repeat today through Saturday, in College Station, Texas, while competing in the NCAA championships.

    Unlike past years when the Wildcats threw heavy favorites such as Albert Subirats and Darian Townsend into the pool, this team will rely even more heavily on depth.

    “”I was just talking to the guys the other day and saying that the way you win the meet is with those one point finishes,”” said Jordan Smith, who will compete in four relays. “”The depth is really what makes your team win. One guy can only do so much.””

    The Wildcats will need every one of their 15 swimmers and one diver to compete at their full potential if they hope to crack the top four teams, head coach Frank Busch said. With teams like Stanford, Texas and California in the field, they must avoid miscues if they hope to reach their goal.

    Without big-time names on the heat sheets, some teams may believe that Arizona doesn’t have a chance at a repeat – the Wildcats don’t buy it.

    Just ask the then-No. 1 ranked Texas team that lost to the Wildcats in a January dual meet.

    “”I feel like the years we’ve been here, we’ve always flown under the radar,”” Smith said. “”That gives us an advantage, and I think we can surprise some people this year.””

    Smith, along with Olympians Nicolas Nilo and Joel Greenshields, will be key cogs in the freestyle events. They will be assisted by distance specialist Jean Basson, who won the Pacific 10 Conference meet’s 500-yard freestyle title.

    Jake Tapp in the backstroke events, Marcus Titus in the breaststrokes and Jack Brown in the individual medleys should provide scoring across the board. As for that depth, freshmen A.J. Tipton, Jordan Slaughter and Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or could provide points as well.

    But the Wildcats will have a weapon in diving well too.

    Sophomore standout Ben Grado has been dominant in dual meets throughout the season and could provide Arizona with points in any of the diving events, each of which are scored equal to an individual swimming event. After making the NCAA championships last year, Grado will look to improve upon that meet and aide his swimming counterparts in their title hunt.

    For motivation, the men will look no further than their women’s team, who took third place in their championship meet.

    “”It got us more pumped up, because we know it’s going to be a battle all the way to the end,”” Tapp said after watching the women compete. “”They put in a lot of energy and we did the exact same thing, so hopefully, it turns out for the best.””

    But energy is not something this team is lacking.

    In fact, the swimmers may be more rested than the coaching staff, who had to “”regroup”” after coaching an intense and draining women’s meet. With three weeks since their last competition, on top of tapered training sessions, the swimmers are antsy to take to the water.

    “”You can see the excitement in all of us,”” Tapp said on Tuesday. “”We’re all hugging each other, pushing each other around and showing that we have a lot of energy.””

    Smith added: “”Everybody seems real excited and ready. (This meet) has been what we’ve been talking about all year.””

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