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Picking Up Where He Left Off

Swimmer Cory Chitwood is back after a year-long hiatus

By Mike Schmitz

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Published: Thursday, November 12, 2009

Updated: Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cory Chitwood November 2009

Gordon Bates/Arizona Daily Wildcat

After missing last season due to a shoulder injury, redshirt sophomore Cory Chitwood is ready to help the Wildcats climb back towards a national championship.

A breakout freshman year that led to a national championship followed by a season-ending injury summed up the first year of collegiate swimming for Arizona’s Cory Chitwood.

But with shoulder surgery and a year away from the water now behind him, Chitwood is back to racing and looking to pick up where he left off.

While sitting out a year wasn’t at the top of Chitwood’s list of things to do, he learned a lot when he wasn’t competing. Today, that knowledge has benefited the Kentucky native.

“I think it’s only made me stronger,” Chitwood said. “It’s made me appreciate everything that much more. I just really have been busting my butt to get back to where I am.”

Chitwood showed where that hard work has gotten him in the team’s first meet of the season as he won the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events in the team’s first dual meet last week.

As a freshman, Chitwood was a huge part of the men’s 2008 NCAA Championship run. He helped the team with a second-place finish (1:41.34, a school record) in the 200 backstroke and garnered two other top-16 finishes at the NCAAs.

“That was huge for us,” said senior Jordan Smith. “For a freshman to come in and get second in the NCAAs is pretty crazy.”

That success in the NCAAs was supposed to translate into a big sophomore year for Chitwood, but due to the injury, that sophomore success will have to come in the redshirt variety.

“I think he’s going to be really important this season,” Smith said. “We have so many individual studs and firepower this year, and Cory is a multi-finalist from his freshman year, so I’m excited to see what he can do this year.”

Chitwood not only feels that he is as good, if not better, physically than his freshman year, but wiser and more prepared after the time off.

“It just gave me a new view on things and it made me tougher mentally,” Chitwood said. ”It also showed me it’s just a sport and to have fun and go after things. Have no regrets and just go after it.”

That new mental toughness has Chitwood slated for an impressive season. He and the Wildcats are expecting to go full-throttle this year. They expect big things of themselves, and Chitwood wants to be a part of that, a la 2008.

“Cory is a great leader of this team and he is a great athlete,” head coach Frank Busch said. “It’s good to have him back racing again.”

Not only is he going to be able to compete this year, but Chitwood’s attitude is back to where it was during the Wildcats’ championship run.

“I want to help lead this team to a national title, that’s the goal,” Chitwood said. “So whatever I have to do for our team to accomplish that, count me in because we’re not afraid of anyone and we’re going to be something to deal with this year.”