Jan. 20, 2003
What's Happening in the Pool This Week? Fresh off a five week winter respite, the University of Arizona Men's Swimming and Diving Squad, bolstered by three new acquisitions since their last competition at the Texas Invitational Dec. 6-8, return to competitive waters on Jan. 24-25 when they battle Pac-10 rivals Stanford and Cal. Both opponent squads are ranked in the top ten nationally with Cal currently occupying the third position while Stanford has ascended to the top position in the latest CSCAA poll.
The Wildcat women also are set to battle the Cardinal and the Golden Bears, however this will be the second competition of the spring semester for the women. On Jan. 15, the Cats began their spring schedule with a 135-105 victory over intra-state rival Northern Arizona. Similar to their male counterparts, the Wildcat women's task this weekend becomes ever more daunting when one analyzes the rankings of the Stanford and Cal women's squads. Stanford is ranked fourth in the latest national poll while Cal sits in the ninth position.
Festivities commence on Friday at 2pm and Saturday at 1pm from the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center on the University of Arizona campus. Stanford is in town on Friday and Cal comes into the desert on Saturday. Admission, as always, is free.
Last Dip in the Water: The University of Arizona Women's Swimming and Diving squad began its spring schedule with a convincing victory over Northern Arizona 135-105, on Friday. Junior Emily Mason, sophomore Brianna Loecher and freshman Jenna Gresdal, who each won two events, paced the Lady Wildcats. Some of Friday's events, although won by the Wildcats, were played as exhibitions. Gresdal began the afternoon with a bang when she easily quelled her competition en route to a victory in the 100y back (56.05). Later, she claimed victory in the 200y IM, when she touched the wall in 2:08.92.
Sophomore Brianna Loecher had her break out meet of the season to date on Friday. Loecher outlasted the rest of field in her victory in the 1650y free (17:49.98). In later action, Loecher remained strong enough to garner victory in the 200y fly event when she completed her race in 2:11.78.
Finally, Emily Mason came on late in the afternoon to win two of the last four events in Friday's competition. Mason won the 200y back and then 200y breast events with times of 2:10.97 and 2:24.77, respectively.
Arizona also excelled in the diving aspect of Friday's meet. Junior Claire Febvay continued her string of dominating performances in the 1-meter springboard event. Febvay easily won the event by collecting 321.35 points. Following immediately behind her was junior transfer Daniela Bemme, whose 313.45 points earned her an NCAA qualifying standard.
The men's squad has not competed in more than a month, since the Texas Invitational, where they finished eighth. While that place was somewhat disappointing, the Wildcat men had some notable individual performances at the 2002 Invitational. Junior Juan Veloz obliterated his own meet record in the 200y fly when he touched the wall in a speedy 1:42.72
The Opponents: With the recent defeat of then top ranked Michigan, Stanford men's squad has ascended to the number one position in the latest CSCAA poll. The Cardinal has compiled a 4-0 record while mostly competing in either invitational or exhibition competition. So far their victories have come over the aforementioned Michigan, Cal Bakersfield and San Francisco St. In addition, Stanford has competed in the Bruin and Trojan Diving Invitational. Only five seniors anchor this year's squad.
The Cardinal women have earned success almost identical to their male counterparts. They currently sit in fourth place in the national rankings. Stanford has a 4-1 record, with their only defeat coming at the hands of top-ranked Auburn, 202.5-129.5.Stanford's victories have come against Pacific, Texas and USC. Stanford has garnered their ranking and won their meets with the leadership of a mere four seniors.
California's 2002-03 men's group has emerged as the class of the Pac-1o conference, with Stanford, USC and Arizona only a very bit behind. The Golden Bears have swam and competed well enough to receive the third overall ranking in the most recent rankings. Recently, they competed in the Dallas Morning News Classic, where they were victorious for the second consecutive year. Freshman Michael Cavic was named Outstanding Swimmer of the Event. Cal's roster is an emulsification of veterans and collegiate neophytes, as they have only four seniors to ten freshman.
Led by Female Swimmer of the Year and numerous world and American record holder Natalie Coughlin, the Cal women's squad has so far competed in a variety of meets including the Auburn Invitational, the FINA World Cup and dual meets against Clemson and Georgia, to name a few. California currently sits at the ninth position in the latest CSCAA poll. Like their counterparts in Palo Alto, Cal's roster is comprised of a paltry four seniors, yet this apparent lack of experience has not consolidated their success, at least to date.
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.
Looking at the Latest Poll: Even though both swimming and diving squads posted respectable finishes at the 2002 Texas Invitational, each of them descended or stayed pat in the latest College Swim Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) poll, released on December 12th. The Wildcat women fell from eighth to tenth despite a fourth place mark at the heavily contested Texas Invitiational.
The women's squad figures to gain ground in the next poll since their next opponent, NAU, is nowhere near as formidable as other teams on the women's schedule. However, the real litmus test to see if the Wildcats will remain a mainstay in the top ten will come on Jan. 24-25 when fourth ranked Stanford and ninth ranked California roll into Tucson.
The five week winter break the Wildcat men just completed perhaps helped more than mend the wounded. Without competing, the Cats went up to 14th in the latest CSCAA poll, released January 17th. The most likely reason for this strange occurrence has to do with the difficulty of the Arizona schedule. This next meet is undoubtedly a perfect example of the Cats arduous schedule. In the latest poll, Stanford now occupies the top spot while Cal is remaining steadfast in third.
While this is certainly a respectable position, it continues to be the second lowest point in the rankings for the Cats to date this season. In order to gain any ground on the other fourteen teams preceding them in the latest poll, the Arizona men must defeat top five powerhouses Stanford and California at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center on January 24-25.
The Latest Rankings (Updated 01/20/03(Men Only), First-Place Votes in Parenthesis)
1. Auburn 200 (8) 1. Stanford! 2. Florida 192 2. Auburn! 3. Georgia 181 3. California! 4. Stanford# 175 4. Michigan 5. Texas# 169 5. Texas 6. USC# 162 6. Florida 7. SMU# 152 7. Minnesota 8. Wisconsin# 140 USC! 9. California# 138 9. Virginia 10. Arizona 129 10. Wisconsin! 11. North Carolina 119 11. Tennessee 12. Virginia 113 12. Georgia 13. UCLA 103 13. Arizona State! 14. Indiana 98 14. Arizona 15. Maryland 89 15. Purdue 16. Purdue 71 16. Alabama 17. Notre Dame 67 17. Penn State 18. Arizona State# 65 18. Pittsburgh 19. South Carolina 51 Harvard 20. Florida State 50 20. North Carolina 21. Missouri 45 21. Florida State 22. Michigan 41 Texas A&M 23. Texas A&M 23 23. Brigham Young 24. Penn State 15 24. Hawaii 25. Washington 10 25. Indiana
#-- denotes Arizona opponent !-denotes Arizona opponent