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New season to swim and dive

Freshman diver Cameron Bradshaw practices with the swim and dive team at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe.(Matt Pavelek/The State Press)

The ASU swimming and diving teams will open their season this year with a sigh of relief, as the program nearly took a catastrophic hit during the summer.

In May, the University announced it would discontinue funding the men’s swim team due to the rising operating costs of sustaining so many varsity sports.

However, a group of donors from around the globe provided enough financial support to reinstate the squad and restore order to the entire swimming and diving program.

“The reinstatement was a relief for the swimmers,” coach Michael Chasson said.

Despite the offseason turmoil, the men’s and women’s swim teams will lean on freestyle events to challenge in what Chasson called the nation’s best conference, the Pac-10.

The teams’ strengths include the 100, 200 and 500-yard freestyle events.

Senior Vinicius Waked should be the fastest racer on the men’s side.

Waked, who is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, transferred from Southern Illinois and made an immediate impact on the team in 2007. Waked also clocked in a personal best of 44.91 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle at last season’s Pac-10 Championships.

Accompanying Waked in freestyle is senior Sean Boyle and sophomore Adrian Kirkpatrick as well as two newcomers, freshman Yutaro Yamashita and junior transfer Tony Cisneros.

Junior Ante Cvitkovic returns to swim the backstroke.

The women’s swim squad should be competitive too.

Honorable Mention All-American juniors Jen Beckberger and Jess Perazzo will anchor a team that is strong in both the sprint and middle distances of freestyle events. Beckberger competed last season in the 50, 100 and 200-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships.

Benedetti leads diving teams

Mark Bradshaw returns to coach the teams this season after receiving his sixth consecutive Pac-10 Diving Coach of the Year award in 2007.

“We work great together,” Chasson said. “Mark is an outstanding coach and he knows what he is doing.”

All-American Micky Benedetti is undoubtedly the leader among the men’s divers. Benedetti went on to final in the 1-meter dive and was named a First-Team All-American in the event. He was also named Honorable Mention All-American in the 3-meter and platform events.

Benedetti won all three diving events at the Pac-10 Championships in 2007, an accomplishment never before seen from a Sun Devil.

Senior Erin Hobbs will lead the women’s dive team this season after placing second at the 3-meter event at the Pac-10 Championships.

Hobbs will compete in all three events.

Chasson said he expects the program to improve upon its finish at last year’s NCAA championships. The men’s swimming and diving team finished 18th while the ASU women finished 17th.

“Our No. 1 goal will be to reach the NCAA Championships and to finish as high as possible,” he said.

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