Arizona swimming and diving dominates events at Hillenbrand
No. 6 Arizona women’s swim and dive team sprang back into action last Friday, sweeping Oregon State, New Mexico State and Northern Arizona at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.
The team returned to the pool after more than a month of rest, earning first place finishes in every event and dominating the competition. The Wildcats improved to an 8-2 record in dual meets for the season.
“It was really exciting to excel this weekend,” junior Kait Flederbach said. “We set the tone early and were able to carry it throughout the meet. I’m looking forward to seeing more people continue to work hard and qualify for NCAA championships this spring.”
Flederbach contributed to Arizona’s victory, placing first in the 50y freestyle and 400y freestyle relay with times of 23.37 and 3:26.34, respectively.
“We have been performing really well so far,” senior breaststroker Chelsey Salli said. “Compared to where we were at this point last year, I think we are in a much better place. We have done more work, and I think it’s going to pay off at our big meets coming up.”
During the most recent meet, Salli earned a pair of first place finishes in the 100y and 200y breaststroke events. With the end of her swimming career just a few months away, Salli was determined to contribute to Arizona’s cause.
“It’s always exciting to win,” Salli said. “Swimming is all about getting your hand on the wall first, regardless of the meet. This semester I’m looking forward to supporting everyone while taking advantage of the team atmosphere as I close out my swimming career.”
Arizona’s men are ranked No. 3, and have enjoyed a great deal of success this season. Sophomore breaststroker Kevin Cordes had a sensational winter and was recently named the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month for the second month in a row.
“It was a huge honor,” Cordes said. “It’s great swimming for the Pac-12. There are so many great athletes and swimmers; it’s truly special to be recognized like that.”
Cordes astounded fans this November, as he set American records in the 100y and 200y breaststroke events and traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, to accompany his coach to the FINA World Swimming Championships.
“I was really impressed with Kevin [overseas],” head coach Eric Hansen said. “He performed really well and was a pleasure and really fun to work with. Our big focus is about March [and making NCAA cuts]. It’s great that he is being recognized for what he has done, but he knows that the road is far from over this season.”
Cordes won a bronze medal for his performance in the 100y breaststroke event, compiling a time of 57.83 and earning himself his first career medal in international competition. He followed his performance with a first place finish in the 4×100m medley relay, earning a split of 57.15 in a total time of 3:21.03.
“It was a great experience,” Cordes said. “It was my first international tournament, and it was nothing like I have ever experienced before; swimming with the greatest swimmers in the world. It was fun being up on the podium and dealing with interviews and press conferences afterwards. It was a crazy experience.”
The Wildcats cruise into conference play this weekend, traveling to Los Angeles for the Bruin Invitational and then returning home to host Cal and Stanford in a dual meet starting on Jan. 25.
“I think we are in control of our own destiny, and that is the way we want it,” Hansen said. “I’m looking forward to March.”