Jan. 6, 2003
What's Happening in the Pool This Week?: Fresh off the much needed Holiday break, the tenth ranked University of Arizona women's swimming and diving team return to the water this Friday, January 10 to battle intra-state rival Northern Arizona University. The Wildcats last swam at the Texas Invitational on Dec. 5-7. The women's squad placed fourth in the competition while the men garnered eighth position. Festivities in the water kick off at 2 pm from the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center on the University of Arizona campus. As usual, admission is free. While the men continue their much needed winter respite this weekend, they will return to Pacific 10 conference action over the weekend of January 24-25. Arizona's men swimmers and divers engage the Stanford Cardinal and the California Golden Bears. This particular meet stands out in terms of difficulty for the Cats because both Stanford and Cal are ranked in the top ten in the latest College Swim Coaches Association of America poll (CSCAA), released December 12th. Stanford stands at third while Cal is only a single spot behind the Cardinal, at fourth.
Last Dip in the Water: Despite numerous individual accolades, the Arizona women's swimming and diving team fell one spot on December 8th to finish fourth in the 2002 Texas Invitational with 633.50 points. The Wildcat men finished in eighth with 196 points. Individually, senior Beth Botsford and junior Juan Veloz stood out for the Wildcats. Botsford won the 200y back event while Veloz bettered his own TI meet record by nearly two seconds in the 200y fly. Veloz had easily the most dominating performance of the tournament. Fresh off his record-setting outing in the Central American Games, Veloz established yet another record in the Texas Invitational. Already the record owner in the 200y fly, Veloz topped it by nearly two seconds by touching the wall in 1:42.72, not only the winning time in the event, but easily an NCAA "A" time. In the Dec. 7 action, junior Jessica Wagner and senior Beth Botsford both solidified their status in this year's NCAA Championships with automatic qualifying times. Even though they had already received automatic bids, Wagner and Botsford's times in their given events significantly improved during evening competition. Wagner's time came in the 100y breast while Botsford's swim in the 100y back granted her an automatic bid to this year's tournament. Elsewhere, junior Emily Mason, sophomore Jessica Hayes and freshman Jenna Gresdal clocked "B" times in two different events. Each member of the trio recorded a "B" time in the 200y free and the 100y back events. In the first day of competition in the 2002 Texas Invitational, the Arizona Women's swimming and diving team was in third place with 226.50 points, while the men sat in eighth place with 62 points. Individually, the Wildcats registered 2 NCAA automatic qualifying times and 11 consideration times.
The Opponent: Intra-State rival Northern Arizona has compiled a 5-6 record so far in the 2002-03 season. Most recently, NAU toppled the University of San Diego in a five event meet 26-18. The Lumberjacks boast six seniors including diver Kate Morgan, a multiple winner for NAU against Florida Atlantic earlier in the season. Last season, NAU finished second at the National Independent Conference Championships, their highest finish ever. In fact, it was four spots higher than they finished in 2001. However, the current Lumberjack squad is one of the youngest in the program's history. 15 of the 35 student-athletes are new to the program. To date, Northern Arizona's schedule has been dotted with numerous national championship contenders. Earlier in the season, in an exhibition competition NAU defeated defending national champion Texas, whom the Wildcats will battle later in February.
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. Unlike their female counterparts, the Arizona men did not plummet anymore in this week's poll, but rather they continue to be ensconced in the 15th position. While this is certainly a respectable position, it continues to be the lowest point in the rankings for the Cats to date this season. Furthermore, the road ascended in the rankings becomes more arduous with the Cats next competition. 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.
Coach Busch's Corner: Note- This is a reprint of the last chat with Coach Busch due to the Holiday Break. Each week Arizona Head Coach Frank Busch, a former NCAA Coach of the Year, sits down to chat about his squad. The following is a transcription of his comments: On Men's performance against USC: "We have lost some key players off of our team, which makes a huge difference inour depth and our relay's. These things are huge at dual meets.The men are at a point where our key athletes are unable to compete in their respective events. Our loss of depth due to injuries is an issue that will only be resolved with time." On the change in men's personnel: "If all goes planned, at the end of the semester, Lyndon Ferns and Simon Burnett will come to our team. Each of these guys has international expierence in some form or another, like the Commonwealth Games for example. Those guys are very good athletes. With the introduction of Ferns and Burnett, combined with Byron Jeffers and Jeff Dash's return a top level, we will have a nucleus of guys to lead us. All of a sudden we have a group that will make our relay's superb. For us, the keys to the NCAA Championship is the relay's. If we can put these guys with Eric la Fleur, you have a solid relay. We may not have the depth that we had in the past, but we still have eight or nine guys that can do some damage." On Beth Botsford's early season prowess: "Beth is training really well but more over, it's her mindset. Beth is really, really on her game right now and she is having a lot of fun. Her focus has been excellent. On the path that she is currently on, Beth is obviously able to compete for a national championship." On his reaction to the meet against USC andUCLA: "Our women's team performed subpar against USC. We went to USC in the morning, jumped in the pool and swam the meet. It was a bit of adversity for our team and that is something that I like. But, then again our ultimate goal is not to win at the dual meets. Our goal is to achieve NCAA qualifying times which will assure us of a good showing at the NCAA Championships. We certainly don't put the same emphasis on dual meets as we do the NCAA Championships.
The Latest Rankings
(Updated 12/13/02, First-Place Votes in Parenthesis)
1. Auburn 200 (8) 1. Michigan 200 (8) 2. Florida 192 2. Texas! 188 3. Georgia 181 3. Stanford! 186 4. Stanford# 175 4. California! 173 5. Texas# 169 Auburn! 173 6. USC# 162 6. Florida 154 7. SMU# 152 7. Minnesota 149 8. Wisconsin# 140 8. USC! 147 9. California# 138 9. Virginia 136 10. Arizona 129 10. Wisconsin! 131 11. North Carolina 119 11. Tennessee 120 12. Virginia 113 12. Arizona State! 110 13. UCLA 103 13. Georgia 109 14. Indiana 98 14. North Carolina 93 15. Maryland 89 15. Arizona 85 16. Purdue 71 16. Purdue 77 17. Notre Dame 67 17. Penn State 63 18. Arizona State# 65 18. Pittsburgh 58 19. South Carolina 51 19. Alabama 55 20. Florida State 50 20. Texas A&M 50 21. Missouri 45 21. Harvard 38 22. Michigan 41 22. Brigham Young 34 23. Texas A&M 23 23. Hawaii 20 24. Penn State 15 24. Washington 16 25. Washington 10 25. Georgia Tech 12 Florida State 12 #-- denotes Arizona opponent !-denotes Arizona opponent