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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Chitwood shines in NCAA’s

The Arizona men’s swimming and diving team took fourth place at the 2011 NCAA Championships in Minneapolis on Saturday, but the highlight came in an individual performance.

For the second year in a row, junior captain Cory Chitwood became the NCAA champion in the 200-yard backstroke.

Despite Chitwood being the favorite, the race went down to the wire. His main competition, Indiana’s Eric Ress, was neck and neck with Chitwood up until the last eight hundredths of a second, when Chitwood just barely hit the wall before him.

“”Before the race, I was just nervous and I think I was probably more nervous for this 200 back than I was for last year’s back,”” Chitwood said. “”I guess I just felt a little more pressure trying to defend the title. In the race, I just wanted to go out with the guy that was next to me. I knew he would go out fast.””

Like Chitwood, Ress is also a national champion in the 200-meter backstroke, except Ress won his in France. Chitwood was fully aware of Ress’ credentials.

“”I also knew he was an experienced 200 backstroker,”” he said. “”He’s a French national champion, so I just wanted to go out head to head with that guy and put myself in the race, and see what I could do in the last 50 meters. Luckily it turned out good for me.””

Chitwood’s win was his favorite moment of the weekend, he said, and it helped mask the disappointment he and his team felt on the second day of competition when the Wildcats fell behind.

“”Day two was sort of rough for the whole team,”” Chitwood said. “”We didn’t swim as well as we wanted to at finals, but you know the NCAA’s, there were three days and six sessions of swimming. It’s a roller coaster, so there are lots of ups and downs, it’s a crazy meet so you just have to ride it out and see what happens.””

After the second day of competition, where Chitwood received All-American honors for the 100 backstroke for placing sixth in the race, he recalled the importance of putting the race behind him, even with his awarded honor.

“”You’ve got to put each session behind you, that was the past and I had to get over it and concentrate on my 200 back and see what I could do,”” Chitwood said.

In regards to how the team finished overall, Chitwood is a proud captain.

“”For us to get wood and be in fourth place is pretty unreal,”” Chitwood said. “”Our team’s so young, and for us to get fourth place is pretty awesome.

“”I couldn’t be more proud of the guys.””     

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