Wildcat Swimming and Diving Travels to Texas to Battle Three Nationally Ranked Opponents
Jan. 28, 2003
What's Happening in the Pool This Week?: Both the Arizona Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving teams travel to Austin, Texas this weekend to battle four nationally ranked squads; Texas A&M, Arizona State, SMU and the home school, Texas.
This will be the second trip to the Jamail Center this year for the 14th ranked Wildcat men and tenth ranked Wildcat women. In early December, the Cats participated in the Texas Invitational where the women finished 3rd and the men placed eighth.
This weekend's meet is slated to run all day on both Friday and Saturday.
Last Dip in the Water: Against Stanford: Paced by two victories apiece from Beth Botsford, Jessica Hayes, Emily Mason and Claire Febvay, the tenth-ranked Arizona Women's Swimming and Diving team knocked off the fourth-ranked Stanford Cardinal 166.5-132.5, on Friday. In total, the Wildcat women garnered victories in 10 out of a possible 15 events, including the two crucial relay events that began and concluded Friday's meet.
On the women's side, the All-American trio of Beth Botsford, Jessica Hayes and Emily Mason were instrumental in Friday's victory. In addition to winning a total of six events individually, both Hayes and Botsford helmed the victorious 200 free and medley relay squads.
Elsewhere, the Wildcat men's squad, while undoubtedly bolstered by three new swimmers, was unable to overcome the top-ranked Stanford men's dominance in the breast, IM and relay events. The Cardinal outscored the Wildcats 160-64 before the last few events were made to be exhibitions
One of the bright spots in today's competition for the Cats was spring semester acquisition Lyndon Ferns, who in his first collegiate meet performed brilliantly en route to victories in three events; the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly. Ferns posted times of 20.61, 45.25, and 49.32, respectively.
Against California: Paced by three event victories by sophomore Emily Mason, and two individual titles from Jessica Hayes, the University of Arizona women's swimming and diving squad defeated the ninth-ranked Golden Bears 136-197 on Saturday. In completing their weekend sweep, the Wildcat women claimed 9 victories out of a possible 13 events, including crucial relay events and both rounds of diving competition en route to their fourth straight dual meet victory.
For the rising Wildcat women, Mason led the way by winning 500 and 1000y free and the 200y IM events. She clocked times of 4:54.40, 10:13.06 and 2:03.65, respectively. Over the weekend, Mason took five individual titles, a key in the Cats' sweep of two higher ranked squads.
Perhaps the key to Arizona's victory on the women's side was the stellar performance of the divers. Junior Claire Febvay won both the 1 and 3-meter springboard events with points of 176.30 and 197.55, respectively. Junior transfer Daniela Bemme placed second in both events. In fact, the Wildcats went 1-2-3 in the 3-meter with senior Jenn Hess finishing third (176.45).
In other action, the Wildcat men battled in every event but were unable to pull out the upset over the third ranked Cal men. The Cats garnered a season high eight event victories, and only trailed by three points going into the final medley relay event, but in the end Cal's relay squad prevailed.
The Opponents: Texas Swimming and Diving are perennial contenders for the NCAA Championships, and this season has so far proven to be no exception. In the latest CSCAA poll (College Swim Coaches Association of America), the Longhorn men sit at second place in the rankings, behind last week's Arizona opponent, Stanford. The Longhorn women also reside in the top ten; they sit at number seven, fresh off a drubbing of 22nd ranked Texas A&M last weekend.
The Texas men, who are led by veteran coach Eddie Reese, have lost three dual meets so far, but both defeats were to SEC powerhouses Auburn and Florida and then number one ranked Michigan. In their most recent outing, Texas regained the look of a championship team in a 123-120 defeat of No. 13 Georgia. The Longhorn men's roster is a young one. In total, only four seniors dot the roster as opposed to 12 freshmen. Be that as it may, Texas appears to be set to have a huge impact on the NCAA Championship, which ironically, they host.
Like their male counterparts, the Texas women have suffered defeats in their dual meet schedule this season but only to the absolute best competition. Under the direction of co-head coaches Jill Sterkel and Mike Walker, the female Longhorns regained their championship form with a 196-104 defeat on the road against their intrastate rival Aggies. Ten freshman populate this year's Texas roster to only five fourth-year swimmers.
While SMU has certainly not the might of Texas, their women's squad is comprised of a formidable yet unexperienced group, as their sixth ranking attests. Last weekend, SMU dismantled a solid Houston squad 143-80, which upped their season dual meet record to 6-1. The Mustang women have also garnered valuable international experience as a result of their 2002-03 schedule. In late November, they traveled to the World Cup in New York and early in December, they participated in the World Cup Diving trials from Indianapolis. SMU has a women roster of primarily upperclassmen however the balance between experience and the vigor of youth exists nonetheless.
Arizona State is also competed in this weekend's quad team meet but the preview of their squad will be saved for the Wildcats final home dual meet on February 15th at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.
This is the second trip for the Wildcats this season to the Jamail Center in Austin, Texas. Earlier in this campaign, the Cats competed in the Texas Invitational. The men finished eighth while the women placed third. Texas won both the men's and women's competitions which took place December 5-7, 2002.
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 coachingappearances 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.
Arizona Media Information: For any information regarding either of the Arizona Swimming and Diving Teams, contact Elliot Magruder in the Arizona Media Relations Office at (520) 621-0913. Those interested in obtaining full copies of releases or statistics may do so at www.arizonaathletics.com. For those interested in recieving each Arizona release via e-mail, contact Elliot Magruder at firstname.lastname@example.org edu, upon addition to the e-mail list, one would recieve each publication dispatched regarding Arizona Swimming upon its initial release.
Looking at the Latest Poll: In the latest poll released January 16th, the Wildcat men ascended one spot in the rankings to No. 14, even though they had not competed in the interim since the previous poll had been released. The Cats are projected to rise in the next poll, whenever it is issued, because of the strong performances against top ranked Stanford and third-ranked California last weekend. The Arizona men showed that in falling to third ranked Cal by a margin of only 12 points that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with as the season progresses. Outings like last weekend's will surely lift the Cats into a higher placement than their current fourteen. Just how much the Wildcats have improved their squad will be evident next week when Arizona battles powerhouses Arizona State and Texas.
The Wildcat women did not recieve the same generosity from the pollsters that their male counterparts recieved. Despite handily defeating Northern Arizona on Jan. 15, Arizona fell two spots and now sits in the tenth position. The Wildcat's descension is more than likely due to stellar performances by squads previously below them against higher competition as opposed to anything deleterious that Arizona could have done itself. However, in the forthcoming CSCAA (College Swim Coaches Association of America) poll, Arizona will certainly move up due to their victories over fourth-ranked Stanford and ninth-ranked California. Frank Busch's women's squad has an opportunity to gain a few more places in the rankings if they can defeat sixth-ranked SMU and seventh-ranked Texas this weekend. If the Cats can garner victories over both of the aforementioned squads, it will mark defeats of four of the top ten squads in only two weeks.
Arizona Diving Makes Its Mark: In both of last weekend's meets against Stanford and California, the performence of Arizona's diving squad, under head coach Michelle Mitchell-Rocha, was imperative in leading both the women's squad to two victories as well as enabling the men to stay competitive against two teams ranked in the top 3 in the nation. After everything was said and done, the Wildcat divers garnered 102 points out of a possible 142. Basically, the divers collected more than 60 percent of the points versus two top ten squads, including the top ranked Stanford men. Junior Claire Febvay, a 2002 honorable mention All-American, notched first place finishes in all all four events upon which she was entered. Following immediately behind her against California were junior transfer Daniella Bemme and senior Jenn Hess. For the men, Alex Vollelunga, who had been quiet for most of the dual meet season, exploded on the one-meter platform. Vollelunga won the event against both Stanford and Cal with point totals of 193.45 and 204.40 , respectively. Teammate Josh Anderson won the three-meter against the Golden Bears (200.30 pts.)
Dynamic Debut: Freshman Lyndon Ferns, a spring semester enrollee who hails from South Africa, began his career in the water for Arizona with a huge splash against Stanford on Friday. In his first every NCAA meet, Ferns won three events; the 50 and 100y free and the 100y fly. What makes Ferns' accomplishment that more impressive is that he achieved victories over two dominant swimmers of the top ranked Cardinal. Ferns swam 20.61 in the 50y free, 45.25 in the 100y and 49.32 in the 100y fly. Ferns single handedly catapaulted himself into the 2002-03 season list of top times with his weekend performance. His times in the 50 and 100y free rank second only to Eric la Fleur's times earlier in the season at the Texas Invitational. Later in the weekend versus Cal, Ferns continued his presence to be known when he claimed victory 50y free (20.62) yet again. Ferns also finished second in the 100y free by a mere .02 seconds.
Next Up: Arizona Swimming and Diving concludes it's dual meet season on February 15th at home against intra-state rival Arizona State. This will be the third time that the Wildcats will participate in the same meet against the Sun Devils this season, however this meet will be the only where the two squads are competing directly against each other. All of the swimming action on Saturday will begin at 2 pm from the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center on the University of Arizona campus.
Sports on the Web: For any of the latest news, notes, results on not only the swimming and diving squads, but the 17 other collegiate sports that the University of Arizona offers, log on to the official athletic website at http://www.arizonaathletics.com.