By Anna Laman
The Stanford men and women’s swim and dive teams will compete against the University of Arizona and Arizona State University this weekend.
Both teams have been working extremely hard over the winter break — building a solid base, consisting of heavy weight training and at least three hours a day in the pool. With Pac-12 meets getting into full swing, the squads are now entering a gradual taper phase, where the swim teams will be mainly focusing on speed and strength with less endurance work.
“It’s so nice to get back into the racing state,” senior Sean Duggan stated. “This weekend should definitely give us a chance to rebound. We’re not fully in taper but are definitely not feeling the hammer from the tough two weeks of winter training.”
“Both Arizona swim and dive teams have a lot of talent but we’re looking to really match up with them,” he added.
This weekend’s meet is just the start to some outstanding Pac-12 competition this season. Last year Stanford’s men’s swim and dive team placed second at the Pac-12 Conference and sixth at the NCAA Championships. Head coach Ted Knapp doesn’t believe Stanford will miss a beat and is looking for the team to improve on last year’s results.
Due to the loss of a few very high scoring seniors to graduation, both athletes and coaches have prescribed to a team-oriented approach to this season. Among those that do not return this year is David Nolan, one of the most versatile swimmers in Stanford’s history. Nolan was a huge asset to the men’s swim team last year, winning nine Pac-12 titles and two NCAA titles, while setting three school records and the American record in the 200 IM.
While this edition of the team — which has gone 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Pac-12 so far this season — lacks individual stand-outs like Nolan, the squad is focused on using its balance and depth to their advantage.
“We had Nolan that was a superstar last year, we don’t really have any outstanding guys this year, so the team will come together and all do our bit to make up the deficit of last year’s talented seniors,” said sophomore Sam Perry.
Arizona will compete on Friday against Cal, which will give Stanford a great indication of the competition it is facing over the weekend. It’s no secret that Arizona (3-2, 0-1), the No. 13 team in the country, and ASU (3-2, 0-1) have a number of extremely talented athletes.
“ASU and Arizona have different strengths, and they will definitely test our versatility and depth,” said Knapp.
Arizona’s men feature Riccardo Maestri, Chris Wieser, Renny Richmond and Nick Hogsed, who have all made swimming Olympic trial cuts.
Five-time All-American and two-time Pac-12 champion diver Rafael Quintero will be competing this weekend, looking to cement his status as one of the top divers in the country.
“He’s outstanding, placing second at nationals last year, and is definitely someone to watch,” said sophomore diver Tarek Abdelghany. “I wish my diving was like his.”
Stanford will look to counter with some impressive divers of its own, not only Abdelghany but also junior Bradley Christensen, who has been battling an injury in recent months but will be competing this weekend.
Fifth-year senior Connor Kuremsky, an All-American in 2013, will also be one to watch this weekend.
“He’s a very consistent diver with the right mentality,” said teammate Ted Miclau.
Against ASU, the Cardinal will be expecting big things from Patrick Park and Richard Bohus. Bohus won the 100 yard backstroke and freestyle against Wyoming last week, earning him Pac-12 Swimmer of the Week honors.
Meanwhile, the No. 3 Stanford’s women’s swim and dive team (2-0, 2-0 Pac-12) will look to keep the pace it set last year, when the team finished second in the conference and third in the country.
Junior Lia Neal is one of Stanford’s incredible talents on the women’s side, owning the school’s second-fastest times ever in the 100 and 200 free, six top-three NCAA placings last year and an American record of 3:08.54 as part of the 400m freestyle relay.
Senior backstroke and freestyler Bonnie Brandon, a six-time All-American from Arizona, will be great competition for Stanford after breaking the Wildcats’ record in the 1,650 freestyle and 200 backstroke last year. Brandon was also recently selected as one of five finalists for the prestigious Wooden Citizenship Cup, awarded to the one NCAA athlete that best displays character and leadership off the field.
Paige Kremer, Ainnie Ochitwa and Sara Borendame, all of whom recently made Olympic trial cuts, round out the No. 11 Wildcats’ deep roster. While ASU (2-3, 0-2) doesn’t have any major stars, the Sun Devils have some depth, as seven different women came out with victories against Wyoming in the team’s latest meet.
The meet against Arizona State commences on Friday at 1 pm and will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks. The teams return to the pool on Saturday at noon to take on Arizona. Both meets will be held at the Avery Aquatic Center.