Arizona swimming eyes national championships

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Drew Gyorke | The Daily Wildcat Drew Gyorke / Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona's Carl Mickelson in the men's 200 yard breaststroke Friday, Jan. 25, 2013.

Filled with stars, Arizona’s nationally ranked men and women’s swim teams are expected to contend for the NCAA championship this season.

Last March, the men’s and women’s teams placed third and fifth, respectively, at the NCAA Championships.

“I think the atmosphere is awesome. We’re all on the same page and all have the same goal of winning,” senior backstroker Mitchell Friedemann said. “[I think] right off the bat, people are going to be racing like they want to win. Since I’ve been here, this is one of our strongest teams and I think we are national championship material.”

Tucson continues to flourish with Olympic talent. Last week, six swimmers, including current Wildcats Margo Geer and Kevin Cordes, were named to the 2013-2014 USA national team. Head coach Eric Hansen said he is relying on Cordes, and Rafael Quintero, a returning sophomore diver, to lead the men into the year with a solid push.

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“I’m expecting great things from them [this season],” Hansen said. “They are both coming off of really impressive years and I look forward to watching them progress.”

Cordes had an electrifying freshman and sophomore campaign in which he amassed three individual national championships, set two American records and was named NCAA and Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year.

Quintero enjoyed a breakout freshman season last year and was subsequently named Pac-12 Men’s Diving Newcomer of the Year.

“On the women’s side,” Hansen said, “we will be supported by a two-time NCAA Champion and American record holder in Geer, and a [diving] national champion as well in [Samantha] Pickens. Those are two swimmers we are going to look toward to come strong right out of the gate.”

Geer, a senior freestylist, said she is looking to complete a successful collegiate career and lead the Wildcats to a national title. The program welcomes 16 freshmen and transfer student athletes.

“Our team is pretty small in terms of numbers,” Geer said. “We have a few new freshmen and we are expecting everyone to really step up this year. I expect the returners to produce really good results.”

Over her first three years at the UA, Geer earned 20 All-American honors and broke both school and American records in the 100m-freestyle.

Arizona’s season kicks off on Oct. 19 with meets against Utah and Oregon State in Salt Lake City. The Wildcats will then return home to face UNLV and are scheduled to host Pac-12 rivals UCLA (women’s only) and USC before the Wildcat Diving Invitational in November.

“I’m really excited for all of the new people that we have, and what they will be able to bring to the team,” Friedemann said. “I can’t wait for NCAA’s and to see what this team is really made of.”

—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17


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