Women's Swimming and Diving Outlook
Nov. 3, 2009
Like their male counterparts, the Arizona women’s swimming and diving team will have high expectations entering the 2009-10 season. Although the team lost several All American’s, including a two-time individual NCAA champion, head coach Frank Busch and his staff are confident the women have what it takes to be among the best in the country.
“I know our girls were disappointed how things turned out last year, they felt they could repeat as champions,” said head coach Frank Busch. “I wouldn’t say there is a different hunger, but there is just a different feeling about this year’s team. Their focus is a little keener now. You’re either physically and mentally prepared or you’re not. With swimming and diving being such an unforgiving sport, it isn’t something you can fake.”
The freestyle event is no doubt where the Wildcats were hurt most in terms of graduation. NCAA Champion Lara Jackson as well as Taylor Baughman, Lindsey Kelly and Anna Turner have all exhausted their eligibility. Sprinter Justine Schluntz is back though for her senior campaign and will be the team’s leader on both individual and relay events. Schluntz finished 13th overall in the 50 free and 7th in the 200 free at NCAA’s. The Albuquerque native also was a part of Arizona American record-setting 400 medley relay, as Schluntz anchored the freestyle leg. Junior Emma Darlington along with sophomore Genny Konicke and freshman Lishi Smith will be counted on to step up in 09-10.
Sophomore Alyssa Anderson is back after a stellar freshman season. Last year Anderson was UA’s top middle and distance freestyler. She won the 500 free Pac-10 title and finished first in the B heat at NCAA’s. Leo Vorster will also bolster Arizona’s mid-distance lineup. At NCAA’s a season ago, Vorster finished 15th in the 200 free and swam on two relays for UA. Rounding out the distance group are Susana Helms, Joni Keith and freshman Monica Drake.
The Wildcat breaststroke team will be led by Annie Chandler. Last season the San Antonio native was fourth in the 100 breast and seventh in the 200 breast at NCAA’s. Chandler, a multiple All-American and American record-holder, will mentor a young crop of freshman women which includes Ellyn Baumgardner, Hilary Bell, Chelsey Salli and transfer Sara El Bekri.
No other collegiate team will have the depth of UA’s when it comes to backstroke swimmers. Arizona will be lead by returnees Ana Agy, who finished third in the 100 back and fourth in the 200 back at NCAA’s and owns the school records in both events, Jenny Forster, Andrea Bortizke, Caitlin Iversen and Dana Christ. The Wildcats also received two transfers from Washington who will help tremendously in backstroke competition. Senior Erin Campbell joins the ranks after finishing fifth in the 200 back and 11th in the 100 back in College Station. Sophomore Hannah Ross also came to Tucson after the Huskies lost their program. Ross swam on UW’s medley relays as well as finished in the top 16 in the 200 back at NCAA’s.
Erin Campbell and Ana Agy will be Arizona’s top flyers, in addition to their prowess in backstroke competition. Agy was fifth in the 100 fly at NCAA’s while Campbell was 12th overall. Utah transfer Whitney Lopus will provide strong depth along with Alyssa Anderson. Lopus was a top 16 finisher in the 100 fly and Anderson was seventh in the 200 fly.
To complement the Cats experience and talent which they have in the Backstroke and Butterfly, it should come as no surprise that they’d be expected to have one of the nations best Individual Medley groups. Bortizke, Forster, Iversen, Lopus, Campbell, Agy and Ross are all capable of having top 16 finishes at NCAA’s this season.
Sophomore Ainsley Oliver along with veterans Allison Scaife and Kristina Draper will look advance on to NCAA’s this season for UA. The Wildcats are also aided by newcomers Ashley Herrera and Alexa Wollach in the dive well in 09-10.
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