New UA swim coach corrals No. 3 recruiting class

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                </div>  After just one full season as head coach, it didn’t take Rick DeMont long to convince some of the country’s top swimming talent that his University of Arizona women’s swim team […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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After just one full season as head coach, it didn’t take Rick DeMont long to convince some of the country’s top swimming talent that his University of Arizona women’s swim team was ready to make a big splash on the national stage.

But then he’s had almost three decades to think about what he would do if he was handed the reins of the Wildcat program.  That finally happened at the end of the 2013 season when he was elevated from his role as associate head coach to replace Eric Hansen.

After a mediocre first full season at the helm during the 2014-15 season, DeMont has landed enough top-tier recruits to earn a No. 3 national ranking for the incoming class, according to the national publication, Swim Swam.

The class of 11 newcomers includes three top-20 recruits and will give the Wildcats depth in the mid-distance events, giving them one of the country’s better line-ups in that area.

Taylor Garcia, who is a sprint freestyler and also competes in the 100 back and fly, headlines the group with her No. 8 national ranking.  Not far behind is No. 13-ranked Katrina Konopka, one of the best high school competitors in the back stroke, and No. 17 Daniela Georges, who will give the Cats a huge boost in the 500 freestyle and also is an elite competitor in the 400 IM and the 200 free.

Based on their best-time performances, Garcia and Konopka are likely going to be NCAA qualifiers right away.

Arizona was looking for talent to fill in some voids in their relay events, and the addition of Garcia and Konopka will address that need, probably making an impact early.

DeMont had spent 24 seasons on the Wildcats coaching staff before getting his chance to take over the program.  He was named interim head coach when Hansen left in the middle of the 2013-14 season, in just his third year as head coach.

Hansen stepped in at a time when the program was in turmoil after Frank Busch, a six-time NCAA Coach of the Year who had directed the Wildcat program for 22 years, left to accept a position as National Team Director for USA Swimming.  Three months later, Franks’ son Augie, who had been with the program eight years, departed for Texas to take over the University of Houston’s women’s swim program.

DeMont was given the interim tag until the last meet of the season, against rival Arizona State.  His first official duty was to win that meet with the Sun Devils, which he did – and got a big boost of confidence in the process.

Last season, the women’s team finished in fourth place in the Pac-12 and 15th place overall at the NCAA Championships.  They placed eighth at the NCAAs the year before, so it had the appearance of a step back.

But he beat ASU again, so the season had to be considered a success.

The men’s side of the program is in need of even more attention, falling off from the peak they reached during the 2010-11 season when they climbed the ladder to a No. 1 national ranking.

But, for right now, the recruiting success he’s enjoying with the women is very encouraging.

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)