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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Teamwork backbone of swim and dive

When you think swim and dive, you think individual races, individual time splits and individual diving scores. While all of those do make up the points in the sport, the elements of teamwork, pride and support are what propel teams like Arizona into the nation’s cream of the crop.

“”You can’t be a bunch of individuals, you’ve got to team up,”” said head coach Frank Busch.  “”You can never win a championship with a bunch of individuals, you win as a group and we do a very good job with that.””

It became evident how huge that team-first attitude is to the Wildcats last weekend in their revenge-driven win over USC Friday. There were no swimmers racing for themselves; rather, all 63 athletes came together for one common goal.

Before the meets, Busch told his team that if they weren’t racing or getting ready for a race, they had better be standing on the side of the pool encouraging their teammates. That request went without saying for this Wildcats team that already knows how huge that support is for its ultimate success.

“”It’s everything,”” said senior Ana Agy of the team-first mentality. “”If we realize that we’re fighting for each other, that’s when you usually perform your best. Those are the swims when you say, ‘Did that really just happen?'””

The Hillenbrand Aquatic Center pool was lined with 20 to 30 Arizona swimmers and divers last weekend, waving their towels and arms while chanting to let their teammates know to pick up the pace and keep up the good work.

At the end of each lane stood at least one Arizona athlete, leaning down and giving words of encouragement to the racer while he or she hit the turn.

These athletes, some of whom are Olympians, are never racing for themselves, but rather racing for the greater good of the team and the program.

Swimming for a prestigious program like Arizona comes with a sense of pride.

“”The guys on the team, we just love this school and this program so much. We want to work hard,”” said Cory Chitwood, a redshirt sophomore and member of the 2008 national championship team. “”When you have that pride, it’s a great feeling to swim fast.””

The team-first attitude isn’t too difficult for a group that boasts an abundance of senior leaders. These athletes have won a national championship and know that nothing can be done alone.

That mentality and sense of pride has trickled down all of the way to the freshman class. Freshman Carl Mickelson, who took many by surprise by winning the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke in his collegiate debut, is one of several newcomers who understand the pride that comes with swimming for Arizona.

“”I was super excited to be here and swimming for Arizona,”” Mickelson said. “”The coaches, the guys on the team, they all work so hard. It’s just an honor to be part of such a strong program.””

The seniors know the importance of teamwork, and the freshmen and transfers have quickly learned that they swim for Arizona, not for themselves.

This team has a common goal — a second national championship — and the willingness to cheer on a teammate is what will help this team achieve that goal.

“”Our focus has been do it for each other,”” Agy said. “”When everyone is fighting for the team rather than themselves, that’s when you start seeing this change in mentality.””

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