Women swimmers ready for Pac-10 Championships
The Arizona women's swimming team begins its championship run today with the Pacific 10 Conference Championships at the Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool in Long Beach, Calif.
The Wildcat women are ranked second in the country, but winning the Pac- 10 Championships will be a difficult task.
Four of the five best teams in the country - No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 California and No. 5 Southern California - will be challenging Arizona.
"This meet is going to be a fight," head coach Frank Busch said. "There are lot of great teams in our conference that are ranked nationally. This meet should be filled with a lot of excitement and it should be a lot of fun."
Leading the way for the Wildcats are senior Trina Jackson and the freshman duo of Beth Botsford and Amanda Beard.
Jackson is the defending Pac-10 champion in the 1,650-yard freestyle. She is also a three-time national champion and has the fastest 500 freestyle time in the nation and she is fourth in the 1,650 freestyle.
Beard and Botsford, who are both Olympic gold medalists, will be competing in their first collegiate championship meet.
"This will be a new experience for me and I am excited," Beard said. " This meet will show me exactly where I am at and how I can improve for nationals."
Although Arizona has its sights set on winning the meet, the Wildcats will use the Pac-10 Championships as a tune-up for the NCAA Championships next month.
Most UA swimmers have already qualified for the national championships, therefore they will not be shaved down for the meet. Many swimmers from other teams are forced to shave because they have not yet qualified for the NCAA Championships.
Arizona still has three swimmers who are aiming for NCAA qualifying times. Sophomore Caroline Kilian, freshman Julie Manitt and senior Karen Hansen will be shaved and tapered in order to swim their best in hopes of qualifying for nationals.
"I am coming off of surgery, so this meet is very important for me," Kilian said. "I am just going to go out and race hard and do my best."
Besides the women's team, the men's and women's diving team are also competing at the University of Southern California this weekend. Their points will be combined with the swimming competition score to decide the Pac-10 champion.
Juniors Lindsay Berryman and Adrian David lead the UA divers. Both women have had great success diving against other Pac-10 competitors.
David is a serious contender for a title in the 1-meter dive as she has placed in the top three every time she has competed this season.
Berryman has a good chance at winning the 3-meter dive competition as she has placed continuously in the top two throughout the season.
The men's diving team is led by junior Arno Bergstrom, who was the only UA diver to make it to nationals last season.
Also, sophomore Ruben Vaca, a three-time National Team member for Mexico, will be key to the success of the UA men's diving team.
Both Vaca and Bergstrom have a chance to win the Pac-10 in both the 1- and 3- meter competitions.