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Men's Swimming and Diving Off to California for Pac-10 Championships
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/04/2003
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 4, 2003

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What's Happening in the Pool This Week?: The No. 19 Wildcat men's swimmers travel to Long Beach, Calif. from March 6-8 for the 2003 Pac-10 Conference Championships. Last year, Arizona finished 3rd behind Stanford and California. This year's championships will be taking place from the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool. Arizona comes into the championships fresh off its only dual meet victory of the season, against Arizona State on Feb. 15. Numerous Arizona swimmers will be making their debut at the Pac-10's this season, including dominant freshman Simon Burnett, Lyndon Ferns, Dave Rollins and junior transfer Luis Rojas. This year's championships, hosted by Arizona State University, will feature six of the top seven individual scorers at last year's NCAA Championships, including Stanford's Randall Bal and Peter Marshall and USC's Erik Vendt. In addition to boasting numerous swimmers participating in upcoming international competitions like the 2004 Olympics from Athens, the lineups for the 2003 Pac-10 will feature athletes who have garnered 25 Top Five times in various events throughout the 2002-03 season. The festivities kick off Thursday at 11 am with preliminaries, which are followed by the finals at 6pm.

Last Dip in the Water: Women's Pac-10 Championships

Paced by the victory in the 200y back by Beth Botsford, the sixth-ranked University of Arizona women's swimming and diving squad rose one spot on Saturday to finish fourth in the 2003 Pac-10 Championships with 1,013 points. UCLA finished first despite not winning an individual title (1,399 pts.); Stanford claimed second (1,399 pts.) and USC rounded out the top three with 1,138 points. California rounded out the top five with 940 points during action that took place from the King County Aquatic Center.

The Wildcats were once again led by the former NCAA Champion Botsford won her second individual title of the weekend in the 200y back when she touched the wall in 1:55.24. Botsford defeated her nearest opponent by nearly three seconds during her swim that automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships later in March.

Arizona's biggest impact on Friday was felt in the 100y back event. The 'Cats were paced with a dynamic effort by Botsford, who won the event with a time of 53.21. Following Botsford was Gresdal who finished third (54.67) and Manitt who garnered the fourth position when she touched the wall in 54.83. All three of these times are good enough to qualify for the NCAA Championships automatic standard.

Arizona's other prominent relay team, the 800y freestyle squad, proved to be as successful as their counterparts on Friday. Arizona's ensemble of freshman Marshi Smith Katie Willis and Gresdal coupled with sophomore Jessica Hayes managed to finish second in the event with an impressive swim of 7:16.58

Sophomore Emily Mason, who holds the meet record in the 500y free, placed second in that event behind USC's Kaitlin Sandeno when she touched the wall in 4:43.27. Mason's swim Thursday night was good enough for an NCAA automatic qualifying time.

Men- Feb. 15 vs. Arizona State Arizona's men's squad also won their meet, but only after a furious comeback in the final two events, allowing them to edge the Sun Devils, 150-149. Arizona's first dual meet victory was not looking promising with two events remaining in the meet, as the 'Cats trailed 141-121.

However, the trio of freshman Dave Rollins, junior Juan Veloz and senior Jeff Dash claimed the top three spots in the 200y IM with times of 1:52.34, 1:52.38 and 1:52.67, reducing Arizona's deficit to only seven.

Arizona closed the meet by finishing both first and third in the final event to give the team a one-point victory. The Wildcat quartet of freshmen Simon Burnett and Lyndon Ferns and juniors Luis Rojas and Eric la Fleur posted first with a time of 2:59.27 and Arizona juniors Zack Ferguson, Veloz, sophomore Dan Wimer and Dash placed third by touching the wall in 3:08.54.

Saturday's win avenges last year's defeat at the hands of the Sun Devils for the Wildcat men (1-6, 1-3 in Pac-10), as well as it marks their first dual meet victory of the season.

In total, twelve different Wildcats won events throughout the action on Feb. 15 including junior Luis Rojas, sophomore Jessica Hayes, and senior Beth Botsford, among many others. Freshmen Lyndon Ferns won each of the individual events in which he competed, the 50 and 100y free.

Last Time at the Pac 10's: Arizona's men finished third at the 2002 Pac-10 Championships, which like this year, took place at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool from Long Beach, Calif. Current No. 1 Stanford won the competition with third-ranked California being the runner-up. Amongst current Wildcats, junior Juan Veloz placed second in the 200y fly in the time of 1:44.95, the event where he currently holds the fastest time in the nation. Elsewhere, junior Eric la Fleur was a part of the 400y free relay quartet that finished third in the time of 2:54.54. Arizona alumni and 2002 NCAA Champion in the 50y free, Roland Schoeman won both the 50y free and 100y fly by posting times of 19.36 and 46.86, respectively.

Coach Busch's Latest Accomplishment: Frank Busch has been selected to help coach the United States team at the 2003 X Fina World Swimming Championships in Barcelona, Spain. This year's championships will take place from July 13-27. Busch will serve as an assistant coach for the women's squad. Busch, who was honored as the NCAA Coach of the Year in 1993, last coached at the World Championships in 1998. In his career, he has made numerous coaching appearances at the international level, six at the World Championships alone.

Busch is no stranger to other international competition. In fact, Busch helmed the 1997 Pan-Pacific Games squad, and he has also been named the 1998 US Olympic Committee National Coach of the Year, among many other honors.

"It's a very prestigious honor. Outside of the Olympics, the World Championships are the most important event in the sport," said Busch.

Coaches for the World Championships are chosen by vote by the athletes who are slated to participate in the games.

International Competitors: Joining Busch at the World Championships is a multitude of Arizona swimmers. Current Arizona swimmer, junior Juan Veloz, a champion at the 2002 Central American Games, will be swimming for Mexico. Sophomore Emily Mason, who earned valuable international experience at the 2002 Pan-Pacific Games, will represent the United States.

Elsewhere, senior Beth Botsford will participate in the forthcoming Pan-American Games.

Arizona alumna, and former NCAA and Olympic Champion, Amanda Beard also intends to swim for the United States in Barcelona. Beard has been training with the Wildcats for the Championships for the balance of the year.

Arizona Media Information: For any information regarding either of the Arizona Swimming and Diving Teams, contact Elliot Magruder in the Arizona Media Relations Office at (520) 621-0913. Those interested in obtaining full copies of releases or statistics may do so at www.arizonaathletics.com. For those interested in recieving each Arizona release via e-mail, contact Elliot Magruder at bosox@email.arizona edu, upon addition to the e-mail list, one would recieve each publication dispatched regarding Arizona Swimming upon its initial release.

Catch the Pac-10's Live!: Fans who are interested in reading results from the 2003 Pac-10 Championships minutes after the final heat is swam can do so this year by clicking on the Pac-10's icon above the sidebar on the men's swimming homepage at http://www.arizonaathletics.com. After clicking on this, a list of events will come on the screen and one can click the given event to see the results. If the event has not been conducted yet, the screen will show the last completed event.

Looking at the Polls: The final poll of the 2002-03 regular season, released by the College Swim Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) accurately portrayed the fortunes of both the Wildcat swimming and diving squads.

Arizona's women, fresh off a season where they defeated five ranked teams and lost only one dual meet in conference play, ascended to their highest position of the campaign, sixth. Conversely, Arizona's men, despite a miraculous comeback victory against Arizona State in their final dual meet of the season, fell to their lowest mark at No.19. Part of the reason for the unusually low ranking for the Wildcat men has partially to do with their rigorous schedule, both in conference and outside of the Pac-10.

In total, the 'Cats men battled seven nationally ranked squads, including six of the top 10. While the two Arizona squads had different seasons, the Wildcat men expect to have a huge impact at the upcoming Pac-10 and NCAA Championships because of the addition of impact swimmers like freshmen Lyndon Ferns and Simon Burnett coupled with the extra preparation that goes into the NCAA's.

Wildcat Swimmers Nationally: Major swimming websites post a list of the best times accrued nationally in virtually every event, which analyze what teams and individuals have dominated the scene that particular season. Similarly, every year many Arizona swimmers and divers populate this list, and this year is no exception. Leading the way for the Wildcat men is junior Juan Veloz. Veloz's swim at the Texas Invitational in December in the 200y fly of 1:42.78 ranks first among any other time posted this season. The All-American Junior has also posted the 16th best time in the 400y IM (3:53.04). Elsewhere, senior Jeff Dash and junior Luis Rojas both find themselves in the top 75 times in the 100y fly. Dash sits in the 27th position (49.04) while Rojas currently occupies the 39th slot (49.26). Lastly, junior Eric la Fleur's performance in the 100y free at the Texas Invitational accrued him a slot on the list of best times. la Fleur touched the wall in 44.21, good enough for 13th overall.

Senior Beth Bostford leads a multitude of swimmers for the women's squad on this prestigious index. Botsford leads all others in the 200y back (1:54.67) and she ranks second only to National Swimmer of the Year Natalie Coughlin in the 100y back with her time of 53.25. However, Botsford's prowess is not limited to only the backstroke, as evidenced by her sixth-place time in the 100y fly and 22nd rank in the 200y fly with times of 53.94 and 2:00.10, respectively. Joining Botsford on the list of best times in the 200y fly is junior Emily Mason who occupies the sixth position (1:57.85). Mason also ranks 12th in the 200y IM (2:01.48) and ninth in the 400y IM (4:14.17). In the end though, Mason's best placement comes in the 500y freestyle. Her time of 4:39.07 ranks her second to the aforementioned Natalie Coughlin.

All-Time Wildcat Greats: USA Swimming recently released an updated list of both the Top 15 performers and Top 15 performances ever registered on yards courses. Not surprisingly, current Arizona swimmers, as well as numerous alumni, appear quite frequently on both lists. All in all, of the Top 15 all time, Arizona women have sixth of the best performances and 12 of the best performers. Topping the list for the Wildcat women is alumna Christy Ahmann-Leighton who ranks as the fifth best performer ever in the 100y fly. Ahmann-Leighton's record setting swim came at the 1992 NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas, when she touched the wall in 51.75. Dotting the index among current Wildcats are senior Beth Botsford and sophomore Emily Mason. Botsford ranks as the sixth best all time performer in the 200y back with her swim at the 2001 Texas Invitational (1:53.76) and 12th in the 100y back when she touched the wall in 53.25 at the 2002 Texas Invitational. Wildcat Women like alumna Sarah Tolar, Olympic Champion Amanda Beard, Trina Jackson, among others are included in this prestigious register.

The same level of prowess on a historical level is exhibited by the Arizona men's swimmers as well. On the current index, the Wildcat men have lodged 13 of the Top performances and ten of the best performers all time. Topping the list are Arizona alumnus Roland Schoeman and Chad Carvin, who are both former NCAA Champions. Schoeman's championship winning swim at the 2002 NCAA's ranks as the third fastest ever (19.06). Schoeman also currently occupies three slots on the Top 15 for the 50y free. Similar to Schoeman, alumni Chad Carvin's swim of 4:11.59 at the 1994 NCAA Championships in Minneapolis, Minn. is good enough for second all time. In total, the Wildcats occupy 5 slots on this prestigious list, with Carvin owning three spots and former NCAA Champions Ryk Neethling and Mariusz Podkoscieiny each taking up one slot.

Next Time in The Water: After this weekend's Pac-10 Championships, the Wildcat men are out of the water for nearly three weeks. However, the Wildcat women return from their brief respite following their Pac-10's when their NCAA Championships kick off from Auburn, Ala. March 20-23. The Arizona men participate in their NCAA's the following weekend from Austin, Texas.

Sports on the Web: For any of the latest news, notes, results on not only the swimming and diving squads, but the 17 other collegiate sports that the University of Arizona offers, log on to the official athletic website at http://www.arizonaathletics.com.


RANKINGS

(Final Regular Season Poll, First Place Votes in Parenthesis)

Men Women

1. Stanford! 198 (6) 1. Auburn 200 (8) 2. Auburn! 194 (2) 2. Florida 191 3. California! 183 3. Georgia 185 4. Michigan 174 4. Texas# 173 5. Texas! 170 5. SMU# 164 6. Minnesota 162 6. Arizona 161 7. USC! 151 7. California# 150 8. Florida 148 8. Stanford# 146 9. Virginia 136 9. USC# 140 10. Georgia 123 10. Wisconsin# 125 Wisconsin! 123 11. North Carolina 122 12. Tennessee 113 12. UCLA# 111 13. Alabama 108 13. Virginia 106 14. Arizona State! 106 14. Penn State 93 15. Texas A&M 87 15. Arizona State# 87 16. Pittsburgh 73 16. Indiana 73 17. Penn State 63 17. Notre Dame 70 18. Brigham Young 54 18. Alabama 62 19. Arizona 45 19. Michigan 61 20. Harvard 44 20. Maryland 52 21. Hawaii 43 21. Missouri 40 22. Indiana 36 22. Texas A&M 27 23. Princeton 33 23. Washington 14 24. Purdue 22 24. Florida State 13 25. North Carolina 19 25. Princeton 10 Purdue 10 Rutgers 10

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