Who Swims What? A guide To Arizona Swimming

If you follow swimming, you know that there are four cardinal strokes that make up the sport: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. Each of these strokes are raced in a variety of distances, from fifty meters, or one length of the pool, all the way to 1000-yards, or two thirds of a mile. Most swimmers, from high school all the way to the Olympics, normally specialize in one stroke, and sometimes only swim that stroke at a certain distance in a specified event, like the 50-yard freestyle. Some swimmers have the capability to swim competitively with a couple of strokes and in a multitude of events, but for most, one is enough.

Here, the Daily Wildcat looks in depth at who swims what stroke for the Arizona swim team.


Hannah Cox

Hannah Cox swimming against NAU last spring. (Pac-12 Sports)

Hannah Cox is undoubtedly one of the best swimmers on the women's team this year. The sophomore specializes in long distance freestyle, and has competed against some of the best swimmers in the world in both the 500- and 1000-yard freestyle events. Cox holds two top-ten times in school history in both distances, and has routinely finished top-three in those races in the past two seasons. This year, she placed second in the Texas Hall of Fame Invitational Tournament, the USA College Challenge, and finished behind five-time gold medalist Katie Ledecky in a conference swim meet against Stanford. The Arizona record-setter is only 19, a member of the U.S. Junior National team and may be an Olympic hopeful for Arizona in 2020.

Diagram showing Cox's strengths, based off of her times. Deeper angles mean faster and more consistent times per stroke (notice her freestyle and IM sections). (Graph from collegeswimming.com)

Brooks Fail

Brooks swimming against Cal Berkeley on January 20th. (Arizona Athletics)

Brooks Fail is only a freshman, but he epitomizes Arizona swimming. The Tucson native is a three-time Arizona state champion for Catalina Foothills in the 200- and 500- yard freestyle distances. Already, the local boy has top-three finishes in the 200-yard, 500-yard and 1000-yard freestyles during conference meets, and most recently earned his first college victory against California on Jan. 20. Brooks is lean and tall at 6-foot-5 — naturally swims faster in long distance events — and still has time left in his college career to develop his stroke. With three more years left to swim for Arizona, who knows what the future might hold for Brooks.

Another stroke diagram indicating Brooks Fail's strengths. He obviously has an advantage when it comes to swimming freestyle. (Graph from collegeswimming.com)


Katrina Kanopka

Katrina Konopka getting ready to swim at the Texas Hall of Fame Invitational last year. (Peter H. Bick / Swimming World Magazine)

Katrina Konopka without a doubt has been an integral part of Arizona swimming for the last three years. She holds three top-ten records for the school in the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 backstroke, and was a part of the fastest 200 medley relay time in Arizona history. She is a three-time all-American, a gold medalist at Junior Worlds and an NCAA A-cut qualifier (the top qualifying division at NCAA nationals) Katrina is now in her junior year as an Arizona swimmer, and has already wreaked havoc in her backstroke competitions. She took first in the 50-yard backstroke at the Texas Hall of Fame Invitational, one of the most competitive tournaments in the nation, and has three other firsts in conference swims in that event. She also took second place four times in the 100-yard back this season so far, and has yet to place out of the top five in any of her backstroke races. Katrina is definitely a Wildcat hopeful come time for NCAA nationals, and has an excellent shot at qualifying for the Olympics in 2020, given she stays on top of her stroke.

Katrina's stroke diagram: the redder color indicates she is better at sprints and short distances, a more purple color (see diagrams above) means a swimmer is more adept to swim long distance. (Graph from collegeswimming.com)

Nick Thorne

Nick swimming backstroke in a conference meet last season. (Arizona Athletics)

Nick is a jack of many trades, and swims phenomenally in most all strokes. He is known for his IM, or individual medley, which is a solo race that combines all four strokes in one event. In the 400 IM, he holds the school's fifth best time, which he earned at the Texas Invitational in 2016. However, despite being known for the IM, Thorne has also swum some blistering times in the 200 backstroke. He placed third, second, and fourth against three ranked-Pac-12 opponents this season, and won first in the 200 back against in-state rival Arizona State last year. Nick was a CSAA Scholar All-American last season, and placed third in the Pac-12 for the 400 IM. Coming into his senior year, Nick is heavily favored to win the Pac-12 in the 400 IM, compete in the 200 backstroke and possibly make some noise at NCAA Nationals.

Nick is strong in a multitude of stokes, as demonstrated by the sections in this diagram. (Graph from collegeswimming.com)


Sam Iida

Sam IIda after breaking his own Illinois state record in the 200 IM last year. (Joe Lewnard / The Daily Herald)

While Sam Iida is one of the younger members on the men's swim team, he has already made an impact in his first season at Arizona. In his first two conference meets against Utah and eighth-ranked Southern California, he won the 200-yard breaststroke, which are incredible performances, period — let alone from a freshman. Sam, however, does have big shoes to fill as a breaststroke swimmer, after the 2015 graduation of Arizona legend and Olympian Kevin Cordes. Cordes was a six-time national champion and won the 100-yard breaststroke four years in a row for Arizona. Although Sam is no Kevin Cordes yet, he has a lot of time to develop as a swimmer, and has the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments this season, plus three more years of swimming, to prove himself.

Sam, as indicated by the lighter purple, swims best at medium and shorter distances. (Graph from collegeswimming.com)

Mallory Korenwinder

Mallory swimming breaststroke against California last year. (Arizona Athletics)

As a freshman, Mallory got her footing in what is the best swimming conference in the nation, and worked her way to a solid performance in the Pac-12 championships. She placed 13th in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke during her first year, and is looking to place higher at the championships this season. Already, as a sophomore, her times have skyrocketed in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke, and she hasn't placed out of the top five in any of her races yet. Most notably during the Texas Invite, one of the hardest college tournaments in the country, she placed fourth in the 200 breast, beating out one of the best breaststroke swimmers in the country — Evie Pfeifer from Texas. She already has three conference wins under her belt in breaststroke, and looks to build a reputation in the Pac-12. Mallory is from Tulare, California — with California arguably the best swimming state in the country — and was a top breaststroke swimmer there in high school.

Mallory is best at the 100 and 200 breaststroke, which are shorter distance events. This is why her diagram looks more red than purple. (Graph from collegeswimming.com)


Mackenzie Rumrill

Mackenzie diving in at a quad meet last season. (Arizona Athletics)

Mackenzie Rumrill is without a doubt one of the top butterfly swimmers on the team, and possibly one of the best butterfly swimmers in the whole Pac-12. The junior is a two-time All-American, and holds two top-ten times in school history for the 100 fly and the 200 IM. Last season she placed tenth at the Pac-12 championships, and 40th overall at NCAA nationals in the 100 fly, which is an impressive feat for any swimmer, especially a sophomore. This season, she hasn't finished outside of third place and is slated to finish in the top ten at this year's Pac-12 championships. Mackenzie is also a gifted student; she is a two-time academic All-American and is majoring in one of the toughest programs at Arizona, physiology.

Mackenzie is more of a complete swimmer, and has phenomenal times in all four strokes, including the IM. However, her deepest angle in the diagram is in the butterfly section, the stroke she swims the best. (Graph from collegeswimming.com)

Justin Wright

Justin swimming butterfly in a conference race. (Stan Liu / Arizona Daily Star)

Justin was named Arizona's Junior Male Athlete of the Year for a reason in 2017. In one season, he set a school record in the 200-yard butterfly, earned third place at the Pac-12 championships, and earned 3rd again in the B division of the NCAA National championships. Justin is a senior now, and is still improving his times at butterfly to date. He hasn't finished outside of second place in any event this season except the USA College Challenge, where he swam against members of the U.S. National Team. However, after two top-ten finishes at NCAA's in the past two years, Justin looks to win it all this year in his best race, the 200 fly. He is contending for first place in the conference, with the Pac-12 championships just around the corner. Inside and outside of the pool, Justin is definitely the team leader for Arizona swim and dive; he is often the most vocal person on the pool deck, screaming at every Wildcat during their events, and getting the team pumped up for whatever their next race may be. No matter what Justin does in the remainder of the season, he will go down as one of the best swimmers in Arizona history, and possibly the best butterfly swimmer of all time at the UA.

The sharp angle in the 'fly' part of the diagram clearly indicates that Justin is best at one stroke: butterfly (Graph from collegeswimming.com)
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