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Sink or Swim

By Branden Lombardi
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday January 24, 2003

One would think the Wildcat Swim and Dive teams would like to ease their way back into competition this spring.

They won't have that chance.

Today and tomorrow, Arizona kicks off its spring season, facing Pac-10 rivals Stanford and California at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.

In their first competition since the Texas Invitational more than a month ago where they finished in eighth place, the Wildcat men will face a daunting task as they go head to head against Stanford Friday and California on Saturday, ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the country, respectively.

The Stanford men's squad is currently the top-ranked team in the country with a (4-0) record in dual meets this season. The Cardinal is fresh off of a victory against then No. 1 Michigan and headed to the desert this year after beating the Wildcat squad in Palo Alto last year.

The California men are currently ranked No. 3 with a (2-0) record in dual meets. Even with Stanford ranked No. 1, Cal is expected to be a major player in the final conference standings.

The No. 14 Wildcats are currently 0-2 this season in dual meets.

Those victories will be a daunting task for the Wildcats according to head coach Frank Busch.

"We're certainly going to find out where we stand," Busch said. "Stanford's men are the best in the country and this California team is the best they have had in my 14 years here at Arizona."

Three new additions to the men's team, Simon Burnett, Lyndon Ferns and Luis Rojas, are expected to make an immediate impact, said Busch.

Senior captain Jeff Dash looks to make waves as well. But this weekend, all eyes will be on junior Juan Veloz - the top-ranked swimmer in the 200 Butterfly - as he battles No. 2 Alex Lim of Cal.

The Wildcat women (3-1) currently hold the No.10 spot in the rankings after beginning their spring season last week with an easy win over Northern Arizona.

The Stanford women's team (4-1) is ranked No. 4 while Cal's women (5-1) are currently No. 9.

Senior's Beth Botsford and Julie Manitt, along with sophomore Emily Mason, will lead the Wildcat women. Botsford, currently ranked No. 1, will be facing her toughest competition in the 100 Backstroke this weekend when she faces No. 2 Natalie Coughlin of Cal.

The swimmers won't be the only ones competing this weekend, as the Wildcat divers will also be in action against Stanford and California.

Wildcat junior Josh Anderson, an honorable mention All-America selection last season, and junior Alex Vollelunga are also expected to be very competitive this weekend, according to head diving coach Michele Mitchell-Rocha. Senior Captain Scott Koenig will look to anchor the men's diving squad.

On the women's side, UA junior Claire Febvay, who competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics for France, will be looked to pace the Wildcats.

Junior Daniela Bemme, a transfer from Germany, will be competing in only her second meet of the season, while senior Jennifer Hess looks to rebound from a serious shin injury.

"We're young and our future looks really bright," Busch said.


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