Seniors shine as Arizona swimming wraps up regular season
On Saturday at Hillenbrand Aquatics Center, the No. 9 and No. 5 Arizona swim teams swam their way to victory against rival Arizona State to close the dual meet season and send the Wildcats into the championship season with momentum.
The men and women both emerged victorious, defeating ASU by scores of 179-105 and 203-92, respectively, and were led by an onslaught of first place finishes by six seniors.
Seniors Lauren Smart, Ellyn Baumgardner, Chelsey Salli, Megan Lafferty and Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or led the Wildcats toward success this weekend.
“I thought they did a great job,” head coach Eric Hansen said. “They raced hard under conditions that were not optimal and I like that. Things don’t always go as planned, and to be able to race under tough circumstances is a good thing.”
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.
Smart placed first in the 100y backstroke and 100y butterfly event, compiling times of 55.08 and 55.09, respectively. She also contributed to the first place effort in the 200y medley relay.
“It was really cold,” Smart said. “It made it harder to swim, but this was the culmination of the whole year, and it was really fun. I really enjoyed being a mentor for the large freshmen class this year.”
Baumgardner placed first in the 100y-breaststroke event with a time of 1:02.42. Salli found success in her last home meet as a Wildcat, swimming the 200IM in 2:03.69 and touching the wall first.
“We just need to qualify a few more people at Pac-12 Championships and get race-ready for the national championships,” Hansen said. “We won’t be cutting many people, but these next few weeks are definitely a stepping stone toward our ultimate goal for March in Indianapolis.”
Lafferty finished first in the 200y-freestyle event with a time of 1:32.62 and also contributed to the winning 200y medley relay team.
Bar-Or was a standout for the men this weekend, placing first in 100 and 200y-freestyle races, compiling times of 44.88 and 1:36.98 respectively, and leading the men’s 200y-freestyle relay toward victory.
Meanwhile, in the diving events, junior Samantha Pickens added to her impressive season after being named last month’s Pac-12 Diver of the Month. She placed first in the 1m, scoring 349.50 and later defeated ASU’s Hailey Casper to win the 3m with a score of 309.75.
“I think the team really clicked and everyone worked together,” Bar-Or said. “Now it’s time to work on the small details, make sure everything is perfect, and be ready to go when it’s ‘money time’.”