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2005 swim and dive preview: Seniors rising to challenge

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics
The Arizona swim and dive teams will rely on the performances of their seniors for their upcoming season. Marshi Smith, winner of the 100-yard backstroke during March's NCAA Championships, is expected to be an anchor for the Wildcat women and Lyndon Ferns, the school record holder in the 100y freestyle, is expected to do the same for the men.
By Allison Hamila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 27, 2005
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Record setters, veterans expecting 'best year yet'

After third-place finishes in the NCAA Championships in March, the Arizona swimming and diving teams are looking to their seniors to make up what little ground remains in the national rankings.

"Everyone is really excited to start racing," said senior Marshi Smith. "This is going to be our best year yet."

Arizona swimming head coach Frank Busch returns a variety of talented veterans whose performances should steer the teams' courses this season.

On the men's side, seniors Tyler DeBerry, Simon Burnett, Lyndon Ferns, Dave Rollins and diver John Collier anchor the squads. Ferns and Burnett were part of a group that set a school record in the 400-yard freestyle relay at the NCAA Championships.

2005-06 swim and dive schedule

Oct. 28
Wisconsin/Penn State (women only) Tucson 11 a.m.
Nov. 11-12
USC Trojan Invitational (diving only) Los Angeles All day
Nov. 18
USC Tucson 2 p.m.
Nov. 19
UC-Santa Barbara (men only) Tucson TBA
UCLA (women only) Tucson 1 p.m.
Dec. 1-3
Texas Invitational Austin, Texas All day
Jan. 6
Washington (men only) Tucson 2 p.m.
Jan. 6 NAU/Oregon State/Washington Tucson 2 p.m. (women only)
Jan. 20
Stanford Palo Alto, Calif. 1 p.m.
Jan. 21
California Berkeley, Calif. 1 p.m.
Jan. 27-28
Texas Tucson 2 p.m.
Feb. 11
Feb. 22-25
Pac-10 Championships Long Beach, Calif. All day
March 9-11
Zone Diving Championships TBA All day
March 16-18
NCAA Championships Athens, Ga. All day

"I am planning on their leadership," said Busch, last year's co-national coach of the year. "Everyone else is following them."

Smith, who broke or helped break two school records in March, comes back as one of the women's swim team's top athletes in lieu of standout Emily Mason, who graduated after last season.

Other senior women expected to contribute in leadership roles include Jenna Gresdal, Erin Sieper, Lisa Pursley, Katie Willis, Ryann Hackett and transfer diver Tiffany Manning, Busch said.

"This is a phenomenal class of women," he said.

Busch said that the women's team's incoming freshman class - which makes up almost a third of the team's 2005-06 roster - will also influence how the season progresses.

"I'm counting on them to help us out," he said. "They will play a role. How well they do and what kind of role they will play, I'm not sure yet."

Arizona diving head coach Michele Mitchell-Rocha said she is expecting John Collier to lead the men's diving team, along with junior Matt Bisordi and sophomore Jeff Hagedon.

She added that she will keep an eye on freshman Federico Inigo, of Mexico City.

"I am expecting a really good year," she said. "We have a really strong team, especially on the men's side."

Junior Mary Yarrison and senior transfer Tiffany Manning are each returning from shoulder injuries, but Rocha said both athletes are fully recovered and ready to go. Junior Megan MacDonald is another strong returning diver, Rocha said.

The teams begin competition against Wisconsin and Penn State (women only) tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.

Smith, last year's NCAA champion in the 100y backstroke, said she sees her season starting out slow and getting progressively better.

Busch said he expects the same trajectory from his teams - with a finish as high as or higher than last year.

"Both teams are led by a tremendous senior class," he said.

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