UofA men’s swim team makes long climb to No. 1

One week at a time.  That’s how the Cats clawed their way to the top of the polls.

It took wins over the top three men’s college swimming and diving teams, but University of Arizona has gradually ascended to the top of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) national poll.   The Wildcats finished out their 2010 dual meet season at No. 1 in the poll, garnering 19 first-place votes, well ahead of No. 2 Texas, with four votes.

Texas had led the poll throughout the season, but UofA kept moving up the rankings, finally reaching the top thanks to wins over Texas, No. 3 Stanford, and No. 4 California.  Forty-seven teams earned votes in the final poll, which measures teams’ relative dual-meet strength.

The Cats are counting on big performances from a trio of seniors and a couple of talented sophomores to do well this week at the Pac-10 Men’s Swimming Championships in Long Beach.  Last year the Cats finished in third place at the meet, which begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday.  They set qualifying times in all five relay events.

The seniors, and their top performances this year, include: Jordan Smith in the 50 Free (19.54) and 100 Free (43.27) / Jean Basson in the 200 Free (1:34.66), 500 Free (4:15.22), and 1650 Free (14:50.32) / Jack Brown in the 200 IM (1:44.05) and 400 IM (3:44.41).  The sophomores are Cory Chitwood, who swims the 100 Backstroke (46.93) and 200 Backstroke (1:41.65), and A.J. Tipton in the 100 Butterfly (46.94) and 200 Butterfly (1:43.00).

After this week’s competition the men’s team will have some time before the NCAA Championships roll around March 25-27.  Last year, the Cats finished in 6th place, setting eight school records in the process.