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Yoshizuma Pains for Swimming

Gwen Yoshizuma’s shoulders still hurt. The pain is not as bad as a year ago, but it’s enough to make swimming a labor of love.

But she’s not crazy, honest.

Yoshizuma, a swimmer for UC Irvine, missed all of last season because of tendinitis in both shoulders, leaving her only one more year to compete as a fifth-year senior. There were friends who wondered about the state of her mind after Yoshizuma kept insisting, like MacArthur, that she would return.

“They would tell me, ‘It’s your last year, why come back?’ ” Yoshizuma said. “They didn’t understand how much I was missing it last year. I would get in and kick sometimes, but that wasn’t enough. Everyone thinks I was a little weird to come back.”

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Hey, no pain, no insane, right?

Still, the few aches are tolerable this season, considering the Anteaters’ start. Irvine has a 5-1 dual-meet record and will host the Speedo Cup Thursday through Saturday at Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach.

It is the team’s best start since, well, no one is quite sure. All Coach Charlie Schober knows is he has already done more post-meet celebrating than in any one season since he became the women’s coach in 1983.

Yoshizuma, who attended Walnut High, wants to keep the good times rolling. She has been slowed because of the flu but is looking forward to the Speedo Cup with an eagerness that should make opponents wary.

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“I get pumped up for big meets,” Yoshizuma said.

No one can doubt her talent. Yoshizuma holds school records in the 100-meter backstroke (58.03 seconds) and 200 backstroke (2 minutes 5.73 seconds). She was also part of the 400 relay team that holds the school record (4:00.04).

All of which she did with a pain in her shoulders that made it difficult to stretch, let alone swim.

“It was a combination of a few things,” Yoshizuma said. “Years of training and I have poor posture. I’m also really flexible. That’s great for swimming, but it also stretches your tendons so they don’t work like they’re supposed to work.”

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She lived with the pain until a year ago, when it became too much.

“I developed numbness and tingling in my hands,” Yoshizuma said. “I was kind of concerned about what was going on. I swam with my club team that summer and my hand would be hurting every time I drove home. I said, ‘This is not right.’ ”

Yoshizuma decided to sit out the year. But nothing was going to keep her from returning. Nothing.

“It stunk not swimming,” she said. “Besides, I made a promise to Charlie that I wasn’t going to leave. I owed it to him to come back. As long as it didn’t mean having surgery.”

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*

Looking for high points from high in the Rockies.

So the Utah women’s basketball team handled the Anteaters Friday. So the Ute men walloped Irvine Saturday. It doesn’t mean it was a total lost weekend. There was some reason for giving thanks--and not just the fact that the Utah men’s team won’t be on the schedule next season.

The Anteater men put together a 17-4 run when they could have folded in the first half. They scored 12 consecutive points during that stretch to trail by five, earning a bit of respect.

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“Right there, there were probably 10,000 fans who thought we were being tested pretty good,” Utah Coach Rick Majerus said after the 83-45 victory. “They’re a scrappy team that put up a fight.”

The Irvine women fared a bit better. They lost to the Utes, 71-56, but the game was more competitive than the score indicates. UCI was down by eight with seven minutes left when the Utes put together a 10-2 run.

Irvine held Utah’s three-point specialist, Julie Krommenhoek, to six-of-16 shooting. She was two of seven on three-pointers.

There were no lingering effects either. UCI came home and beat Fairfield, 64-52, Sunday.

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Coming Attractions

A look at key events this week for UC Irvine:

* Men’s and women’s swimming and diving hosts Pacific and San Luis Obispo in a tri-meet today at 6 p.m. in the Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach. They also host the Speedo Cup Thursday through Saturday at the Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach.

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* Men’s basketball hosts Oregon State at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Bren Center.

* Women’s basketball hosts San Jose State Friday and Northern Arizona Saturday in the Bren Center. Both games begin at 7 p.m.


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