Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Women's Swim/Dive 2006 Season Review
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: May 16, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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                The Arizona swimming and diving teams completed the 2005-06 season making an enormous splash throughout the nation. Both the men and women completed the dual meet season ranked in the top-10 of the CSCAA poll and went on to upset several top-ranked teams to earn second and third-place finishes at the NCAA Championships. The Wildcats finished the season breaking a total of 38 records, including 22 school and four NCAA, while posting 78 All-American Honors. Arizona also posted seven national relay titles, three individual national champions and a first-place finish at the Pac-10 Championships on the women’s side. Head Coach Frank Busch was named the Pac-10 Women’s Head Swimming Coach of the Year for the sixth time in his career and also the NCAA Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year for the second year in a row. The Wildcats posted the finest swimming and diving season in U of A history, once again proving to be one of the most elite programs in the nation.


Women’s Review:


The women’s team finished the dual-meet season ranked fourth with a 9-2 overall record (5-2 Pac-10), posting only two losses to No. 3 Stanford and sixth-ranked California. At the NCAA Championships, the Wildcats finished third for the third consecutive year with 415 points and tallied two individual titles by junior Whitney Myers and three relay titles, the most ever accumulated at the meet in school history. Out of the 16 athletes who competed at the national championships, there were 40 All American honors, two NCAA and nine school records broken.


NCAAs: Day 1 - Arizona took an early lead at the championships after the first night of competition by taking over first place with 161 points, while tallying two national relay titles and one individual champion.


                The 200 free relay team of sophomore Courtney Cashion, senior Jenna Gresdal, freshman Anna Turner and sophomore Lacey Nymeyer became the first team ever to break the  1 minute 28 second mark, winning the first national relay title for Arizona since 2002. The Wildcats posted a new U.S. Open, NCAA, pool and school record with a time of 1:27.98.


“I don’t think we could have started the meet any better,” Cashion said. “I expected that we would swim pretty well and then Lacey came out and swam a really fast leg. It feels amazing to win.”


                “You could feel the energy throughout the entire stadium,” Nymeyer said. “The energy made it almost impossible to swim slow. Swimming anchor was great because my team set it up and all I had to do was put my hand on the wall. It’s a great feeling to win.”


Myers was later crowned the 200 individual medley champion after crushing the Gabrielsen Natatorium pool and Arizona school records with a time of 1:24.88.


“I felt awesome during this race,” Myers said. “During prelims I thought about my swim too much and I over-analyzed everything. Tonight I didn’t want to do that, I just wanted to just race, and that’s exactly what I did. Coach (Frank Busch) told me to really go after it in the breaststroke because that is my weakest stroke. I just poured my heart and soul into it. It’s amazing and a dream come true.”


                Winning the third event for Arizona was the 400 medley relay team of Gresdal, senior Erin Sieper, Myers and Nymeyer, who set a new pool and school record with a time of 3:31.70.


“It felt really good swimming this relay,” Myers said. “Swimming it can be really hard if you have to come from behind, but it was never like that, this was a ?'come and get me’ kind of race.”


Four women qualified for the finals of the 50 freestyle as Nymeyer finished second, improving her school record-breaking performance from this afternoon’s prelims with a time of 22.10. Cashion finished fourth in the event with a time of 22.22 and Gresdal finished seventh with a time of 22.54. Turner finished 13th overall with a time of 22.88.



“I didn’t know how I was going to swim this race because I concentrate on the 100 and 200 freestyle more,” Nymeyer said. “But, this morning I swam my career best time (and an Arizona school record) so that really took the pressure off for tonight. Overall I have surpassed my goals for the year.”


                In the diving well, senior Tiffany Manning finished sixth in the championship finals of the 1-meter with 293 points. Manning’s score is also a new Arizona school (six-dive) record.


Day 2 - The women fell to third place with 315 points after the second day of competition, while tallying a fourth national title in the 400 individual medley.


                Myers posted her second individual national title in the 400 IM, setting new Gabrielsen Natatorium pool and Arizona school records with a time of 4:06.32. Myers’ victory marked the fourth NCAA title for the Wildcats, which is the most ever accumulated at the NCAA Championships in school history.


“I’m still stunned (that I won the race),” Myers said. “I’m really proud of how I did. I was hurting in the last 100 yards, but no guts no glory. This is the first time I have ever swam the 400 IM in a major meet.”


Beginning the night’s action was the 200 medley relay that finished second. The team of Gresdal, Sieper, freshman Lara Jackson and Cashion swam a time of 1:38.78 posting 34 points on the board for the Wildcats.


“We are just trying to take it one race at a time and fight for every race,” Sieper said. “I think the team swam this race well, we split well and I think we did the best that we could have done.”


Nymeyer finished fourth in the championship finals of the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:45.00 and Cashion placed 10th overall in the race with a time of 1:46.54.


Sieper finished seventh in the 100 breaststroke finals with a season best time of 1:01.30. Freshman Jessica Embick finished fifth in the consolation finals of the race, and 13th overall with a time of 1:02.31, while sophomore Jacquelyn Craft finished 15th (1:02.45).


Gresdal later finished second in the 100 backstroke with a time of 52.74, while classmate Marshi Smith, who was the 2005 NCAA champion in the event, finished 12th with a time of 54.07.


Manning added to the women’s team score after finishing 13th in the 3-meter diving competition with 301.65 points.


The 800 free relay team of Myers, Nymeyer, Cashion and Turner concluded the evening by finishing second with a time of 7:07.38.


Day 3 - To conclude the championships, Cashion, Gresdal, Myers and Nymeyer won the 400 free relay, which was the race that decided the NCAA Championship title between Georgia and Auburn. Coming into the race, the two top-teams were separated by only five points, the crown riding on the outcome of the race. As the No. 3 seed, the Wildcats crushed the U.S. Open, NCAA, pool and school records with a time of 3:12.77, giving Auburn their fourth women’s national team title.


                “This was our goal tonight,” said Gresdal, “to go out and take this race. We knew it was ours to take if we just stepped up. It’s a really cool feeling, an incredible way to end the year.”


                “This is so unreal, too exciting to put into words,” said Nymeyer. “(During the race) I saw how hard the other three girls were swimming and I was not about to let them down... no way. We all swam our hearts out.”


                “We said before the race that we were going to leave it in the pool,” Cashion said. “We knew if we did that we’d win. It’s such an incredible feeling and I’m so proud of my team.”


“My thoughts coming into this race were for us to do what we thought we could do, and that’s breaking the record,” Busch said. “This was a special meet because these are a special group of girls. The seniors are very special to this team and it is going to be hard to let this group of girls go. I am so proud of this team, and this was a great end to a great season.”


                Nymeyer had a school record-breaking performance earlier in the evening during the 100 freestyle finishing second with a time of 48.43. Cashion finished fifth in the championship finals of the race with a time of 48.57. In the consolation finals of the 100 freestyle, Gresdal finished first in her heat and ninth overall with a personal best time of 48.64.


Sieper finished seventh in the consolation finals of the 200 breaststroke and 15th overall with a time of 2:14.92. Myers finished 3rd in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:56.26 behind senior Kimberly Vandenberg of Cal and senior Mary Descenza from Georgia, who won the event with a time of 1:53.78, becoming the first female swimmer to ever win an NCAA event four years in a row.


Pac-10 Championships ?- On Feb. 22-25 the women competed at the 2006 Pac-10 Championships as they captured their second conference title in school history.  The Wildcats tallied a total of four individual champions, three relay champions and 17 NCAA automatic qualifying times.


The Wildcats had been in the lead since day one of the championships, downing two of the top teams in the nation, Cal and Stanford. The women’s victory marks the best finish at the meet since 2000 when the women took first place with a total of 1,125 points and only four individual champions.


Coach Busch was also named the Pac-10 swimming coach of the year for the sixth time as Whitney Myers was honored as the Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year on Wed. April, 12.

Margo Geer P12 WOTY