Arizona swimming and diving looks to rack up NCAA national times
Arizona’s No. 10 women’s swim team travels to Federal Way, Wash., this week to compete in the Pac-12 Conference Women’s Swimming and Men’s and Women’s Diving Championships, where the Wildcats will attempt to climb to the top of the conference and qualify a few more swimmers with NCAA national times.
The meets will be carried on tape delay on the Pac-12 Networks.
The women will compete in swimming events against ASU, Cal, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah and Washington State. They will begin with the finals of the 200-yard medley relay and the 800y-freestyle relay, which are scheduled for 6 p.m. today. The divers will compete against Arizona State, Cal, Stanford, UCSB, USC, UCLA and Utah beginning on Thursday.
“I think we are in a really good place in preparation for NCAA’s,” head coach Eric Hansen said. “We are going to use this meet as quality speed-work in preparation for that. I think anything we do at this meet is a bonus because we aren’t completely prepared — we’re a little tired, but we’re in a good spot.”
Drew Gyorke / Arizona Daily Wildcat Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or swimming the 100 yard freestyle. Nimrod was one of the 11 honored for senior day at the beginning of the meet.
Preliminaries for the 50y and 500y-freestyle events, 200y-individual medley and women’s 3M diving competition will take place Thursday along with the men’s 1M diving preliminary and final.
Junior freestylist Margo Geer looks to complete an exceptional season where she is already in possession of the NCAA’s top time in the 50y-freestyle.
“I’m also excited about our divers,” Hansen said. “I think we are going to have a good showing. Our divers had made a lot of progress, and they want to contribute.”
Junior diver Samantha Pickens jumped into the national spotlight this year, earning the Pac-12 Women’s Diver of the Month honor in January after placing first in five of seven events. Last year at the Pac-12 Championships, Pickens placed second on the 1M and fourth on the 3M and went on to win a pair of top-four finishes at the NCAA Championships.
Freshman diver Rafael Quintero is eager to compete as well, coming off of a hot streak to represent Arizona’s men in competition. He is considered one of the nation’s top freshman divers and closed the season with 12 straight top-two finishes after sweeping the 1M, 3M and platform events at the Bruin Invitational in January.
Preliminaries for the 400y-individual medley, 100y-butterfly, 200-freestyle, 100y-breaststroke, 100y-backstroke and men’s 3M events will take place on Friday. The women’s 1M preliminary and final will occur shortly before the finals of the previous events.
Five-time All-American senior Ellyn Baumgardner has contributed to the women’s success this year throughout the dual meet season and holds the third-fastest time in the nation in the 100y-breaststroke event.
Saturday’s events begin with the women’s platform event, followed by the preliminaries of the 200y-backstroke, 100y-freestyle, 200y-breaststroke and 200y-butterfly events, along with preliminaries of the 1650y-freestyle event. Finals will occur shortly afterward.
Freshman Bonnie Brandon has enjoyed a breakout season this year and will be competing in her first championship season.
“I’m looking forward to experiencing my first Pac-12’s,” Brandon said. “Hopefully there will be a lot of energy, and hopefully we will all swim fast. I expect us to come together and race hard. I think we are going to do well this week and surprise some people.”