Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Women's Swimming Welcomes Kansas for Season Opener
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: October 06, 2011
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Oct. 6, 2011

TUCSON, Ariz. -

Arizona women’s swimming kicks off the 2011-12 season this weekend in a home dual meet versus Kansas on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 10 a.m. at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center. The Wildcats are led by a first-year staff, including head coach Eric Hansen and assistant coaches Geoff Hanson and Tracy Duchac. Associate head coach Rick DeMont returns for his 23rd season as the Wildcats swimming coach.

Arizona is coming off a successful 2010-11 season, earning a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships, including eight individual or relay top-five finishes, three top-10 and five top-20 finishes in the tournament.

The 2011-12 Wildcat women swimming and diving team features eight All-Americans, including four newcomers, three seniors, six juniors, 11 sophomores and two freshmen.

Seniors Alyssa Anderson (Granite Bay, Calif.) and Emma Darlington (Tucson, Ariz.) return for their final season at Arizona and are joined by University of Denver transfer, Grace Kittle (Dallas, Texas).

Anderson, an 11-time All-American and school-record holder in the 500 freestyle, is coming off a highly successful 2010-11 season, earning five All-American honors and placing third nationally in both the 500 free and the 200 fly. In addition, Anderson was named Arizona Athletics’ Female Junior Athlete of the Year.

Darlington, an All-American in the 200 free relay and member of the 2008 National Championship team, redshirted in 2010-11 due to injury. In 2009-10, she earned her first All-America honor and helped the Wildcats’ NCAA Championship 200 medley relay qualify for the championship final, swimming the anchor leg.

At the University of Denver, Kittle led her team to its first Sun Belt Conference title, posting a first-place finish in the 200 Breaststroke, breaking the conference record.

Ellyn Baumgardner (Fairfax, Va.), Monica Drake (Bloomington, Ill.) and Chelsey Salli (Vancouver, B.C.) lead the 2011 junior class. Baumgardner earned four All-American honors in her first two years, while Drake earned one in 2011 for the 800 free relay. Lauren Smart (Charlotte, N.C.) joins the team from the University of Virginia, where she finished eighth in the 100 backstroke at the 2011 NCAA Championships. Eve Sarris (Adelaide, South Australia) and diver Ainsley Oliver (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) round out the junior class for the Wildcats.

The sophomore class features five All-Americans with 18 total honors. Margo Geer (Milford Center, Ohio) returns to Arizona after recording the second-fastest time in both the 50 and 100 freestyle events behind only NCAA champions Lara Jackson and Lacey Nymeyer in the respective events. Other All-Americans in the sophomore class include Sarah Denninghoff (Tucson, Ariz.), Grace Finnegan (Columbus, Ohio), Kait Flederbach (Carmel, Ind.) and Aubrey Peacock (Jacksonville, Fla.). Swimmers Ashley Evans (Phoenix, Ariz.), Lindsay Seemann (Newmarket, Ontario), Hallie Stupp (St. Louis, Mo.), Briana Wilford (Amado, Ariz.) and divers Ashley Herrera (La Palma, Calif.) and Samantha Pickens (Murrysville, Pa.) round out the sophomore class.

Freshmen Izzy Diamond (Tucson, Ariz.) and Shannyn Hultin (Westlake Village, Calif.) join the Wildcats as the only freshmen newcomers. Diamond was the Catalina Foothills High School diving team captain and won the state championship her senior year. Hultin comes to Arizona after becoming an Olympic Trial Qualifier in the 400 IM and 200 IM.

The Wildcats’ meet versus the Jayhawks is the season-opener for both teams. In 2011, KU posted wins against Nebraska, Vanderbilt, South Dakota and Northern Iowa and recorded its second-highest point total at the Big 12 Championships in three years. The Jayhawks are led by Stephanie Payne, Brooke Brull and Deanna Marks.

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Margo Geer P12 WOTY