By Allison Hamila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, December 1, 2005
For the Arizona swim teams, this week's trip to Austin for the Texas Invitational, running today through Saturday, is not just for any regular meet.
It's the meet where the Wildcats get their first stab at qualifying for the NCAA Championships in March.
Action will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day at Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.
With only two dual-meet victories under their belts so far in 2005, the No. 6 women's team and the No. 5 men's team are looking to post some marks that will carry them through to the end of the season despite what happens from here on out.
Last year, both teams finished second in the event, partly behind senior Simon Burnett's record-breaking 200-yard freestyle time of 1:32.22, still the NCAA and Pacific 10 Conference record. The teams combined for 32 qualifying times for the Championships.
The Wildcats will be competing against the cream of the nation's crop, including Texas' No. 6 men's and No. 9 women's teams.
Also participating will be Southern California, whose women are No. 10 and the men No. 8. Wisconsin and Arizona State round out the lineup.
"Our main goal is to get as many people qualified for NCAAs (as possible)," said junior Whitney Myers.
"It sets us up for all of second semester," she added. "If we can qualify now, we don't have to at Pac-10s (Feb. 22-25)."
Myers said that it is generally easier to qualify now than it is in the spring.
"Since there are no titles, there is less stress on you, so you can just try to do your best," she said.
Senior Marshi Smith, who is nursing a shoulder injury, said she's looking forward to the meet.
"I feel like we have just been warming up in the dual meets," she said. "I am excited to see how people swim."
Smith said that the meet is a good way to gauge where she and the team are at this point in the season, adding that the weekend shouldn't make or break the year.
"In the end, though, it all depends on how hard you have worked," she said.