Swimmer Justin Wright looks to add a national championship to his impressive legacy at Arizona
Senior swimmer Justin Wright has his sights set on one thing for his last season as a Wildcat: a national championship.
For the past four years, Wright has led the Arizona swim team in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly events, with a school record in the 200-meter butterfly and NCAA-qualifying times in both strokes.
Now, he leads the country with the fastest 200-meter butterfly time of 1:40.57, which he set at the Texas Invitational and has held for three months.
“I have trouble with long-term goals because they seem so far away, but I knew I wanted to be leading the country,” Wright said. “Now that already happened, I am setting my sights on actually winning a national championship.”
Wright has been close to that goal in seasons past. Last year, he made it past preliminaries and advanced to the event final in the 200-meter butterfly at the NCAA Championships and took seventh place in one of the year’s toughest fields. He also posted qualifying times for the NCAAs his sophomore year in the same event, and he earned All-American honors both years, as well.
Wright hails from Fresno, California and started swimming at a competitive level early on. He competed internationally with Team USA on the junior team for four competitions and continues to swim with Team USA today. In fact, last year he swam at the World University Games in Taiwan, which is an Olympic-style event that takes the top collegiate athletes from around the world.
“International swimming is pretty different,” Wright said.
Wright almost feels more comfortable in longer-distanced international events than he does with high-paced collegiate swimming, even though he excels at both levels.
“College is yards and international is in meters, so the length of the pool is really the biggest thing,” Wright said. “In short course, there are a lot of flip turns and walls, so it really emphasizes a lot of sprinting and kicking when you swim, where in long-course events it’s harder because it takes a little more skillful swimming. Typically, I’ve been better at long course.”
Wright made it to the final of the World University Games in the 200-meter butterfly and placed sixth against some of the fastest swimmers in the world. Wright hopes to continue his experience with international swimming outside of college and said he plans to continue swimming with Team USA at the professional level.
“If it all pans out, I would swim for the national team, doing domestic and international events … and try to get a contract from as many companies as I can,” Wright said.
When all is said and done, Wright, a business major specializing in sports management at the Eller College of Management, hopes to put some of his current, albeit secret, business ideas in action.
“What I have is a billion-dollar idea, so I don’t want anybody stealing it or anything,” Wright said.
However, even though his future is right around the corner, Wright maintains his focus on the task at hand: the upcoming Pac-12 Conference Championships. The team right now is resting, taking time off after a brutal regular season to prepare for one of the most important tournaments of the year.
“You make a sword during the season and do most of your physical work, and now we’re sharpening it before conference championships and taking more rest and time off,” Wright said. “Most swimmers can’t improve their times without a break or a taper at some point in the season, so we’re resting and refining things now before conference.”
Wright finished in the top three at Pac-12 for the last two years, finishing third in the 200-butterfly last season and second in the previous season. And although Wright is focused on how he swims, he cares more about how the whole team performs.
“I’d like to consider myself a humble guy, so I don’t like to talk about my personal achievements a lot,” Wright said. “But when my buddies or the team as a whole succeeds, I get really excited.”
With Pac-12 Championships on Wednesday, Feb. 28, and the NCAA Championships only a couple weeks away, there is a lot for Arizona swimmers, swimming fans and Justin Wright to be excited about.
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