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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Women’s swim aims for conference title 3-peat

    Expect the best from this week’s Pacific 10 Conference women’s swimming championship in Long Beach, Calif., as it should provide one of the nation’s most competitive swim meets so far this season.

    The Pac-10 boasts three teams ranked in the top 10 – No. 2 Stanford, No. 4 Arizona and No. 8 California – along with four other teams in the top 25 – No. 15 UCLA, No. 16 ASU, No. 24 Washington and No. 25 USC.

    “”We’re excited and we want to defend, but more than that, we want to set a tone for the rest of the nation,”” said UA junior Taylor Baughman. “”It’ll be a dog fight (between Arizona and Stanford) but a fast dog fight. A lot of times when you have two talented teams it comes down to who wants it more. We want it pretty badly and are up to the challenge.””

    Arizona (7-1) spent its entire season building for this meet – as well as the NCAA championships in March – and recharged its batteries over the past week and a half, so the Wildcats expect to post some of their fastest times this year. The times posted by two-time defending national champion No. 5 Auburn as well as No. 3 Florida and No. 1 Georgia at the Southeastern Conference championships earlier this month added extra motivation for Arizona to perform well this week.

    “”Since this is an Olympic year that will get people going,”” sophomore Annie Chandler said. “”Everyone swims at a different level mentally. Those SEC times are incredible and it’s more competitive than I’ve ever seen before in multiple events.””

    UA head swim coach Frank Busch said his squad held a couple of intense meetings over the past few weeks to make sure everybody is on the same page heading into the conference title tilt. Busch said his squad can step up and defend its titles and added that he’s anxious to see how the competition shapes up.

    “”It’s really hard to judge (the Pac-10) conference meets because you’ve got nine other teams swimming,”” Busch said. “”I know there will be a lot of good swimming. This is exciting times for us, gosh darn it.””

    The main reason behind the excitement is because of the already lofty achievements the program has attained so far. The women’s squad has only lost one dual meet all year (Jan. 26 at Stanford) and took down perennial power Texas for the first time in Busch’s 18-year stint at Arizona.

    “”We have a group of 24 girls that are really looking to bring a title to the school and our program,”” Baughman said. “”A national title is something that’s been in the works since coach Busch came here. We want to give the school and our coaches a title, and that would be something amazing to do for ourselves as well.””

    Into the diving well

    The Arizona men’s and women’s diving teams will also be in action for the Pac-10 Conference championships this week, but those meets are taking place on the northern end of the West coast. The diving championships will take place in Seattle because the Long Beach facility doesn’t have regulation-size diving pools.

    Both the swimming and diving portions of the meet start today and conclude Saturday.

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