Elite competition warrants exceptional effort and focus.
The ASU swim and dive team will need to bring its “A” game this weekend when No. 8 Stanford and No. 3 California travel to the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe.
Swim coach Dorsey Tierney-Walker said her team is ready for a challenge.
“Oh, we’re excited,” Tierney-Walker said. “(We are hosting) defending national champions (Cal) and defending conference champions in Stanford, so yeah, we’re thrilled to be hosting them. I’m excited to perform our best against the best. That’s the goal.”
Although Tierney-Walker said the ultimate goal for her swimmers is to qualify and be ready for the championships at the season’s end, she can’t deny the fact that this level of competition brings eagerness among the athletes.
“They get excited when the competition is at its highest, and they know that (Stanford and Cal) are going to be the ones to beat at the end of the season,” she said.
Both Cal and Stanford have been national powerhouses in swim and dive for as long as most of these athletes have been alive.
Cal’s women’s team has won three of the last four national championships, and the Stanford men and women have been right near the top with them.
Tierney-Walker feels that her men’s team is starting to turn the corner and will be able to compete with these formidable foes. But some of the swimmers have not experienced this competition yet.
“Each year, I’ve seen a little bit more confidence in our men,” she said. “With some of our newcomers, they haven’t yet experienced Stanford and Cal, so I think I’ll learn a lot, and I think they’ll learn a lot, but it’s been something they’ve talked about all week.”
On the diving side, coach Mark Bradshaw said his group might not look and feel 100 percent come competition time.
“These guys are tired ─ we’ve been training hard, and that might reflect a little bit,” Bradshaw said. “But I don’t think we can look at this meet this weekend and be like, ‘OK, we’re not where we should be,’ because regardless of the outcome, I think we are.”
He added that both meets against Stanford and California will be good for the team in the sense that they are just getting more competition under their belts.
Senior diver Harrison Jones will no doubt have his toughest competition to date when he goes up against Stanford’s Kristian Ipsen, the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the 3-meter synchro-dive.
Competition against Stanford kicks off on Friday at noon. The Sun Devils take on Cal starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
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