Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Arizona Swimming Kicks Off 1999-2000 Season in Las Vegas
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: October 25, 1999
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The Meet: The Arizona swimming and diving squads will kick off their 1999-2000 campaign when they swim the UNLV Runnin' Rebels and the Arizona State Sun Devils at the Buchanan Natatorium in Las Vegas, Nevada. For the Wildcat men it will be the debut of six newcomers (four freshman; two transfers) and for the women, seven Cats (six freshman; one transfer) will be seeing their first action for UA.

The Facts: In the preseason College Swimming Coaches Association of America Top-25 Poll, the Arizona women's swimming and diving team will begin the year ranked second in the nation, while the men will start the year off in the No. 4 position. On the women's side, the Wildcats trail only defending-champion Georgia, while the men find themselves behind; No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 defending-champion Auburn and the No. 3 Texas Longhorns.

The women ended the 1998-99 season with 10-1 dual-meet record (4-1 in Pac-10) and finished fourth at the 1999 NCAA Championships. The women also return 20 letterwinners from last year's squad, including 11 All-Americans, while losing only one point-scorer from last year's NCAA team.

The men's team, led by 1999 NCAA Division I Swimmer of the Year Ryk Neethling, returns 18 letterwinners from last year's fifth place team, including 12 All-Americans, while losing no point-scorers from last year's NCAA team. This year's men's team will also feature 10 seniors, the largest class during the 11-year era of head coach Frank Busch.

Cats in the Polls: The men enter the meet ranked No. 4 in the nation in the preseason edition of the Speedo America College Swimming Coaches Association top-25 poll. The men remained in the top-6 during the entire 1998-99 season. The women are No. 2 and remained in the top three during the entire 1998-99 season.

Other Pac-10 men's teams in the rankings include the Stanford Cardinal at No. 1, California at No. 5, the Southern California men at No. 6 and Arizona State in the No. 15 spot.

For the women, Stanford is No. 3, USC No. 4, California at No. 5, UCLA in the No. 14 slot and Arizona State at No. 22.

New Wildcat Faces in the Pool: Beth Botsford, a Garrison Forest High School product (Timonium, Md.), who was a double gold-medalist at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, is beginning her first year at the University of Arizona this season. Botsford, who swam for North Baltimore Aquatics was the 1996 Olympic champion in the 100 meter backstroke in 1996 and was also a member of the gold medal-winning 400 meter medley relay squad at the Olympic Games. She is currently a member of the 1998-99 United States National Team, which is comprised of USA swimmers who rank in the top-eight in the world in their respective events. Botsford was also a World Championships team member in 1998 and holds the distinction of being the 12th fastest woman ever in the 200 backstroke (2:10.66).

Irvine (Calif.) High School swimmer Amanda Beard, who won a gold medal and two silvers at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta is another freshman newcomer to the UA swimming program. Beard, who has swam for the Irvine Novaquatics club team for the last eight years, won silver medals in the 100 and 200-meter breaststroke at the Atlanta Games and won the gold on the United States' 400-meter medley relay. She is the American record holder in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08.09 in 1996 and is a three-time U.S. national champion.

Next Time Out: On Friday, Nov. 12 the Wildcats will swim the USC Trojans in their Pac-10 and home opener, beginning at 1:00 p.m. It will be "SoCal" versus "The Desert" all weekend long as the Wildcat women's team takes on the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, Nov. 13, beginning at 1:00 p.m.

Margo Geer P12 WOTY
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