TUCSON, Ariz. – After closing out another successful season full of accomplishments and accolades, the Arizona swimming and diving team was rewarded as Kevin Cordes was named Pac-12 Men's Swimmer of the Year, Samantha Pickens earned Pac-12 Women's Diver of the Year and Rafael Quintero was named Pac-12 Men's Diving Newcomer of the Year, the league announced on Thursday.
Cordes, who was already named NCAA Swimmer of the Year, won two individual national championships in record setting fashion and was part of a relay national championship at the NCAA Championships. Cordes broke the American, NCAA and U.S. Open records in both the 100 yard (50.74) and 200 yard breast (1:48.68), making him the fastest swimmer in history for those two events. He was also part of the national champion and school record breaking 400 medley relay team as he swam the fastest 100 breast split in relay history. Cordes opened the 2012-13 campaign by setting a pair of American records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the AT&T Winter Nationals in November and followed it up with a pair of medals — a gold and a bronze — at the 2012 FINA World Swimming Championships in December. The Naperville, Ill. native added conference titles in the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the Pac-12 Championships. Cordes became the first Wildcat to earn Pac-12 Men's Swimmer of the Year since Simon Burnett won the honor in 2006.
Meanwhile, Pickens became the first Arizona female to win a national title in diving. Pickens was impressive in prelims as she was the top seed and then continued the momentum in the finals with several impressive dives. She scored 348.45 in the finals to win the 1m competition. It is the second consecutive year that a member of the Pac-12 won the event as Victoria Ishimatsu won the event last year. After an injury set her back at the beginning of the season, Pickens started to gain form at the UCLA Bruin Invitational, where she won the 1m competition with a score of 575.95. She also earned Pac-12 Diver of the Month honors back in January after winning five of the seven events in which she competed. Pickens placed third on the 1m and second on the 3m at the 2013 Pac-12 Championships. She earned a spot in her third straight NCAA Championship after winning the 1m and claiming second in the 3m at the NCAA Zone E Diving Qualifier. Pickens is just the second Wildcat to ever earn Pac-12 Women's Diver of the Year honors, joining Lindsay Berryman in 1999.
Competing in his first ever NCAA Championship, freshman Rafael Quintero earned a spot in the finals of the platform diving competition. Quintero finished sixth with 387.20 points. Quintero also earned a Pac-12 title in the platform competition as he finished with a score of 399.90 to hold off 2012 Olympic medalist Kristian Ipsen (398.40) of Stanford and All-American Harrison Jones (392.00) of Arizona State. He became just the seventh Arizona male to ever earn a Pac-12 title in the platform event. He also became the first Wildcat to win the platform as a newcomer since Arizona diving coach Omar Ojeda won it in 2001. Quintero had an outstanding first season as a Wildcat as he also won all three boards at the UCLA Bruin Invitational back in January and he also claimed the platform at the Wildcat Diving Invite in November. He is the first Arizona freshman to claim the award since Ben Grado won the award in 2008.
Additional awards on the men's side included Josh Prenot of California earning swimming newcomer of the year and Cal head coach Dave Durden claiming men's swimming coach of the year honors. Kristian Ipsen of Stanford was named men's diver of the year and his coach Rick Schavone earned men's diving coach of the year.
On the women's side, Cal swept the swimming awards as Elizabeth Pelton claimed women's swimmer and newcomer of the year honors. Her coach, Teri McKeever, was named women's swimming coach of the year. Morgan Weller of Arizona State was named women's diving newcomer of the year and Hongping Li of USC was named women's diving coach of the year.
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