Arizona swimmers off to Winter Nationals
Forty-two Wildcat swimmers join head coach Eric Hansen this weekend to compete in the USA Swimming AT&T Winter Nationals at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas. The competition runs Thursday through Saturday.
“We are at Nationals to make qualifying cuts for the NCAA Championships this spring,” Hansen said. “Here, we will try to get our relays qualified and qualify as many of our individual swimmers as we can.”
Arizona’s swimming and diving teams are both currently ranked 13th in the nation among men and women. Senior freestylist Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or has led the men in competition this season and looks to continue on his path to the NCAA Championships, boasting top-10 times in the nation in both the 100 and 200y-freestyle events.
“We were a little sluggish during our first session here,” Hansen said. “We are going to continue to become sharper and learn from our previous difficulties. I think we will really break through in our sessions tonight and tomorrow.”
Senior breaststroker Carl Mickelson has enjoyed recent success, winning the 200y-breaststroke and 400y-IM against USC, and making national top-10 times in the 100 and 200y-breaststroke events.
“We have been training heavily,” freshman free-stylist Kelly Moodie said. “Now that we are rested, we are ready to swim fast.”
Junior backstroker Mitchell Friedemann currently holds a top-10 time for the 100y-backstroke and participates in both relay teams. Bar-Or, Mickelson and junior Giles Smith round out the 400y-medley-relay team, which has the second fastest time in the nation.
“I expect our leaders, Mitch Friedemann, Giles Smith, and Carl Mickelson to step up,” freshman Andrew Sovero said. “I know the freshman are ready to go as well. I’m looking forward to seeing how we will perform this weekend.”
The 200y-medley-relay team consists of Friedemann, Smith, Cordes and junior Tommy Gutnam. The group has the third best time in the nation.
Arizona’s women have been led this season by junior free-stylist Margo Geer. Geer is considered one of the fastest swimmers in the nation, earning top-10 times in 50, 100, and 200y-freestyle events. Her time in the 100y-freestyle is the third-fastest in the nation. She aims to qualify for the 400y-medely relay as well.
“We’ve all been working really hard and have been doing things in practice and meets that we’ve never done before,” sophomore Shannyn Hultin said. “I think we’re going to really outperform ourselves. A lot of us, including myself, started training right back up after Olympic trials without taking a break, so we’ve put in more training than most other teams.”
Seniors Lauren Smart, Megan Lafferty and Ellyn Baumgardner round out the rest of the 400y-medley-relay team. It currently holds the fourth-fastest time in the NCAA with a 3:36.96.
“Right now both our men’s and women’s teams are pretty under the radar so I think we’re going to turn some heads and shock the nation,” Hultin said. “Individually my goals are to make NCAA qualifying times in my three individual events [200IM, 400IM and 200 breaststroke].”