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Success is no stranger to Arizona swimmer Friedemann

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Mitchell Friedemann Courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Mitchell Friedemann waited anxiously in the pool at the 2012 NCAA Division I Championships in Omaha, Neb., as he hoisted himself into a push-off position.

“You could feel the tension as all of us anticipated the shot that started the race,” Friedemann said. “We knew a national championship was resting in the balance of this relay.”

The starting shot rang and everyone fell silent for a split second before bursting into a frenzy of cheers and jeers. Friedemann, a junior, was Arizona’s catalyst, and the relay team depended on him to burst out of the gates with a strong 50-meter backstroke.

Arizona wound up making history by breaking an American record and earning a national relay championship, compiling a 1:23.53 seconds in the 200-meter medley. The last school to set the record was the University of Texas in 2007, with a time of 1:23.88 seconds.

“It was pretty surreal,” Kevin Cordes, another member of the relay team, said. “Setting an American record is a pretty big deal, and it honestly hasn’t really sunk in yet, despite all this time.”

For Friedemann, getting attention on a national stage is nothing new.

Freidemann has been an avid swimmer since he was six. In 2010 as part of the Junior National Team, he set personal records in the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter backstroke with a 20.32 and 47.64 respectively.

As a student at Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wis., Friedemann placed third amongst national high school swimmers in the 100-meter freestyle, landing his picture on the cover of Swimming World Magazine. The piece labeled him as a potential “five-star” college recruit.

“Arizona automatically appealed to me,” Friedemann said. “They have everything I need: a decent education, a team that’s like a family and coaches who will support you no matter what.”

During his first appearance at the NCAA Championships, Friedemann swam a 46.09 in the 100-meter backstroke during the preliminaries and his 46.32 in the 100-meter backstroke during the finals.

Friedemann’s performance would not go unnoticed, as he was recognized with first team All-American honors at the conclusion of the season.

Looking to add to his solid freshman year, Friedemann quickly learned to jell with the new head coach, Eric Hansen, who took over the program following Frank Busch’s departure. Busch left Arizona after the 2010-11 season in order to coach the US National Olympic team after 22 years as the UA’s head coach.

“Friedemann is a national champion and American record holder,” Hansen said. “He is an extremely hard worker and has a big season in front of him. He has been consistent with his training and has high expectations for himself.”

Friedemann did not disappoint during his sophomore campaign. During a trip to ASU, he helped the Wildcats to victory by swimming the 50-meter freestyle in 20.45 and the 100-meter freestyle in 45.90.

During his second appearance at the NCAA Championships, Friedemann recorded a 20.42 in the 50-meter freestyle.

Subsequently, he decreased his previous time in the 100-meter freestyle by nearly two seconds with the 43.69 he earned. While swimming the 50-meter backstroke, Friedemann complied a time of 21.26 seconds, marking his fastest 50-meter backstroke swam thus far in his collegiate career.

“This year, I’d like to improve on my individual times.”

Friedemann said. “My goal is to complete the 100-meter backstroke in under 44 [seconds].”

At the conclusion of last season, Friedemann was honored as an All-American for the ninth time in two consecutive years after placing second in the 400-meter medley, third in the 200-meter freestyle and sixth in the 100-meter backstroke and 400-meter free relay.

“People are training harder, putting in more effort and pushing toward the same common goal of being contenders in the Pac-12,” Friedemann said. “The team is in a very good place.”

Last summer, Friedemann and other teammates were invited to compete against the world’s best swimmers at the US Olympic Trials in Omaha.

“It’s a good feeling to be here swimming amongst some of the top guys in the world,” Friedemann said. “It was pretty cool to be able to watch them on the Olympics and know that I raced against them at trials.”

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