Summer wasn't a break for Arizona Wildcats Swimming
To students at the University of Arizona, summer often means relaxation, pool parties and vacations. But to swimmers on Arizona’s nationally ranked swim team, summer means intense conditioning, training and competing against nationally and internationally acclaimed Olympic athletes to stay sharp for the upcoming season.
As the pool regained its calm demeanor at the close of competition, Team USA was presented with a trophy as the top squad of the 2013 FINA Aquatics (Long-Course) Swimming World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.
The Americans, under USA assistant coach and Arizona head coach Eric Hansen, boasted great success as they led all other nations in total, gold and bronze medal counts. Team USA finished the swimming events with 31 total medals: 14 gold, eight silver and nine bronze.
“It was a great experience, and we got to see where the rest of the [swimmers] in the world were at. I was really proud with the way our kids performed,” Hansen said.
Drew Gyorke / Arizona Daily Wildcat Lauren Smart swimming the 100 yard backstroke. Smart was one of the 11 honored for senior day at the beginning of the meet.
Since the first FINA World Championships in 1973, America has earned more medals than any other nation.
“[Team USA] has been the top squad since the history of the modern day Olympics,” Hansen explained. “It was our expectation to continue that [success], and I was pleased that we pulled it off.”
UA senior Kevin Steel touched the wall in the 50m-breaststroke event, claiming 12th place, while junior Kevin Cordes placed 21st in the same race.
Cordes swam his fastest individual time in the 100m-breaststroke event, placing 7th as the tournament began to wind down.
“For Kevin, it was his first time on a world stage at that level, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy,” Hansen explained. “He has been to short-course worlds, but long course worlds are a whole different animal. I thought he performed quite well.”
The U.S. Open tournament in Irvine, Calif., featured UA senior butterfly swimmer Giles Smith and sophomore backstroker Bonnie Brandon, along with a few alumni.
Over the summer, Smith competed at the swimming U.S. Open, the World Championship Trials and four World University Games.
“[The U.S. Open] was the end of a big, long summer,” Smith said. “I raced in six tournaments, so it was busy and tiring; but I’m more or less pleased with my performances as a whole.”
Brandon felt she could have done better at the U.S. Open.
“[Summer] was OK,” Brandon said. “I wasn’t very happy with my swimming, but that meet is always a lot of fun. It was great to see all of my friends from other teams, and there was a lot of fast swimming going on so it was nice to watch.”
Hansen said he believes Brandon is just one small push away from enjoying the fruits of her labor.
“I thought Bonnie was extremely strong at U.S. Open,” Hansen said. “She expects to be better than where she is right now, but [success] takes time and patience and consistent training. She is almost there.”
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