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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Swim takes on Sun Devils in season’s home-finale

    UA junior Marcus Titus takes a breath during an Arizona dual meet win against California on Jan. 23 at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center. This weekend the No. 4 mens and womens teams take on ASU in the final home meet of the season.
    UA junior Marcus Titus takes a breath during an Arizona dual meet win against California on Jan. 23 at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center. This weekend the No. 4 men’s and women’s teams take on ASU in the final home meet of the season.

    The Arizona men’s and women’s swim and dive teams will compete in their final dual meet tomorrow at 1 p.m., facing off against ASU at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.

    Such a rivalry in any sport creates an extra-special atmosphere, but Arizona’s men and women – both ranked No. 4 – are clearly the favorites. ASU’s only win on the season came in a women’s defeat of Oregon State. In their most recent Jan. 24 meet, the Sun Devils lost to the California men 159-93 and 152-91 to the women.

    But the Sun Devils are probably happy to have the opportunity to swim at all.

    Their struggles are not completely in their hands – their swimming program was cut last year and then reinstated after supporters donated enough money to keep the program afloat. Despite the likelihood of an Arizona victory, the Wildcat swimmers will not overlook the Sun Devils.

    “”Obviously, they’re our biggest rival,”” said junior and Tucson native Bryan O’Connor. “”Maybe they’re not at that level that we’re at, but I’m just glad they got back their program this year; it’s really good for swimming. It’s a big meet.””

    O’Connor is one of many swimmers hailing from Arizona and will face fellow Catalina Foothills High School graduate and club swimming teammate Adrian Kirkpatrick in the water. Wildcat senior Josh Arreguin is also a graduate of the local Tucson school.

    Arizona totes 16 swimmers and divers who stayed in state for college and ASU has nine of its own. The familiarity of the opposing teams shows how each program has kept the local talent at home.

    Wildcat swimmer Austen Thompson grew up in the Phoenix-metro area, making the rivalry special in its own right.

    “”I get pretty excited,”” the freshman from Brophy College Prep said. “”I grew up swimming for the club team that was down at ASU. I used to be an ASU fan.””

    After spending time training at ASU, Thompson realized that the school didn’t fit him. As he got closer to making his college decision, he was attracted to Arizona for both its college atmosphere and the swimming program.

    “”I like the rivalry,”” Thompson said. “”It’s kind of cool to be going up against the school I grew up around and used to be rooting for. It was a whole change of heart for me, so I’m excited to be racing them.””

    In their last home meet of the year, Thompson and Co. will be racing for the first time in the new Hillenbrand Aquatic Center’s 25-meter short-course pool, which compliments the 25-yard short-course pool used for most events, said UA head coach Frank Busch.

    The change will provide the swimmers with a slightly longer meter course opposed to the usual NCAA regulation-sized course, which is measured in yards.

    And with Pacific 10 Conference championships on the horizon, the meet will be the last low-key swim meet before the season reaches its peak. But don’t let that fool you; Busch will have his team taking no prisoners, even against this struggling ASU squad.

    Extra Lap

    UA junior Jake Tapp was named the Pac-10 Swimmer of the Month for January. Tapp helped the Wildcat men defeat No. 1 Texas by winning both the 100-yard and 200y backstrokes while also finishing the 400y freestyle relay for another Arizona victory.

    In January, Tapp won a total of eight events. The Langley, British Columbia native joins teammate Lara Jackson, who won the Swimmer of the Month award in December.

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