Wildcats Make a Splash at USA Swimming's College Challenge
UA swim athlete Katrina Konopka dives into her lap lane.
Five Arizona swimmers competed at USA Swimming's second ever College Challenge last weekend at the University of Southern California. The two day meet slated the best men and women swimmers in the Pac-12 against top performers on the U.S. National Team through thirty-six events, each gender swam fourteen individual races and four relays.
Arizona swimmers Hannah Cox, Katrina Konopka, Chatham Dobbs, Nick Thorne and Justin Wright all swam for the Pac-12, and helped contribute to the conference team's eventual 326.5 - 286.5 win over the U.S.
The Arizona women had an impressive weekend in the pool. Both Cox and Konopka had second place finishes in the 1,000 and 50 meter freestyles, eventually losing to Olympic gold medalists.
In the 1,000 free, Cox lost by a twenty seconds to superstar Katie Ledecky, who with five gold medals under her belt is the most decorated female swimmer of all time. Konopka, her teammate and fellow freestyle specialist, also lost by .8 of a second to Abby Weitzeil, who won gold in the 400 medley and silver in the 400 free relays in Rio.
Ledecky and Weitzeil both swim for the Pac-12, attending Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley respectively.
Cox a member of the U.S. Junior National team, was recently named as a pre-season All American, and finished 12th at NCAA Championships last year. She holds the fourth fastest 500 freestyle time in school history, and looks be a young leader on the women's team as a Sophomore this season.
Konopka is a three time All American, holds the school record in the 200 medley relay and is an international gold medalist. She won at the FINA Short Course championships in Windsor, Canada last year and comes into this season as a junior.
Wright and Thorne
Justin Wright and Nick Thorne also made an impact for the Pac-12 team over the weekend.
Wright, who holds the school record for this event, competed in the 200 butterfly and 100 butterfly. Thorne competed alongside Wright in the 200 fly, they both finished fifth and sixth, and swam an additional race in the 400 IM.
Wright swam in the World University Games over the Summer, and enters his final season as an Arizona swimmer.
Thorne is also an incoming Senior, and the duo looks to lead the men's team into a better season after a fifth place finish at the Pac-12 Championships last year.
The College Challenge proved to be a unique opportunity for Wildcat swimmers to compete alongside many of their conference rivals. And the Pac-12's win against the U.S team demonstrates that for swimming and diving, this conference may the most talented, and competitive in the nation.
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