March 28, 2003
Throughout the entire regular season, Arizona head coach Frank Busch has tirelessly emphasized the importance of momentum, both garnering and then retaining it.
Judging by the University of Arizona men's swimming and diving team's performance on Friday morning, they have gotten the point.
The 'Cats gave their all around best effort of the season during Friday's preliminaries, as Arizona qualified 3 swimmers into the championship final and narrowly missed the championship final of the 200y medley relay by .13 seconds en route to a ninth place finish.
Arizona is now in prime position to advance from their current 14th position into the top ten.
Two personal bests as well as two top ten performances in Wildcat history were both established on Friday morning.
Arizona's quartet of freshman Simon Burnett and juniors Eric la Fleur, Greg Owen and Luis Rojas began the morning on a great note with a ninth place finish in the 200y medley relay with a collective time of 1:27.96, a season top time. While Arizona missed the championship final by one spot, the 'Cats will be seeded first in the evening consolation final.
Junior Juan Veloz started off the individual events in the 400y IM with the third-fastest swim in Wildcat history, not to mention his personal best. The Mexico City, Mexico native finished 3:47.51, a time which granted him eighth place and a spot in Friday evening's championship final.
In the third event of Friday morning, the 100y fly, Arizona brought two swimmers into action, one a veteran and the other in his first NCAA Championships. Senior Jeff Dash, in his fourth NCAA appearance, gave his season best effort by clocking it at 48.20, good enough for 28th place.
However, it was Rojas, a spring semester enrollee from Mexico, who stole the show for Arizona in this event. His time of 46.64 qualifies him in the fourth position for the evening's championship final, it was also his season best and the third fastest performance of all time for Arizona.
Burnett concluded a remarkable morning with his new personal best in the 200y free (1:35.68). This time puts Burnett in the eighth position in the championship final on Friday night.
Arizona figures to have a busy Friday night from the Jamail Swim Center on the University of Texas campus. The 'Cats have athletes in four events in the finals, which kick off at 7 pm (CST).
Day Two Event Competitor Prelims Finals Place 200 Medley Relay Burnett (22.61), Owen (25.31) 1:27.96 Rojas (20.87), la Fleur (19.16) 400 IM Juan Veloz 3:47.51 100 Butterfly Jeff Dash 48.20 ------- 28th Luis Rojas 46.64 200 Freestyle Simon Burnett 1:35.68