UA men’s swim team now No. 1 after wins at Texas Invite

Cory Chitwood now owns the fastest swim times in the country in three different events, and his Wildcats team now owns the nation’s No. 1 ranking.

The University of Arizona men’s swimming team earned a unanimous No. 1 ranking following its performance at the Texas Invitational, highlighted by Chitwood’s individual wins in the 200 IM and 200 backstroke and his assist in the victory in the 400 medley relay.

The Cats jumped up from their previous spot at No. 3.

Chitwood, a two-time national champion, won the 200 back in a time of 1:38.85, which qualified him for the NCAA Championships in that event.  He posted NCAA “A” cuts in that event and the 200 IM as well.

He also was named the Counsilman Huntsman Swimmer of the Week following his performance in Austin.

But the men’s team goes deep in talent.  The Cats posted 17 times that fell into the top 10 in 11 different events.

Three swimmers qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 200 breast, including freshman Kevin Cordes, junior Carl Mickelson, and senior Austen Thompson.

Mickelson and Thompson are local products.  Mickelson was a three-time state champion in the 100 breaststroke at Chandler’s Hamilton High School and Thompson was a six-time All American at Brophy Prep in Phoenix.

Michael Sheppard, a sophomore from Tennessee, also made an “A” cut in the 200 backstroke with a time of 1:41.51.

The men hold the fastest time in the country in the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay, and the second-fastest in the 200 free.

Meanwhile, the women’s team is also climbing up the national polls.  Strong performances in the Texas Invite also propelled them up the standings, moving from No. 8 to No. 5.

The women posted eight top times in eight individual events at that meet.

Senior Alyssa Anderson swam the 200 fly in a time of 1:54.82 – the fastest in the country in that event this year.

And the relays on the women’s side are especially strong.  The women have recorded the fastest times in the country for the 400 free and medley relays, and the second-fastest in the 200 free and medley relays.

Two athletes out of the Tucson high schools make up half of the Cats’ 400 relay team, which qualified for the NCAA Championships.  Sarah Denninghoff and Emma Darlington join with Margo Geer and Monica Drake to fill out that team.

Denninghoff is a sophomore from Sabino High School, where she was the Tucson Citizen’s Swimmer of the Year in 2007.  Darlington, a redshirt senior, attended Salpointe Catholic.

The Texas Invite was good to the Wildcats.  They used the event to qualify 11 individuals for 17 events and five relay teams.

And the NCAA Championships aren’t until March.  Lots of time to load up the bus for Alabama.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)