Jayhawks return to action for senior day meet against Nebraska

Jan. 13, 2012

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Fresh off their eight day long training trip to Puerto Rico, the Kansas swimming and diving team will return to Robinson Natatorium to take on the Cornhuskers from Nebraska, Saturday at 1 p.m. The non-conference meet also marks the final time that four KU seniors will compete in front of their home fans.

“This meet is about honoring our seniors more than anything else,” said head coach Clark Campbell. “We have four absolutely awesome people, who will become future alumni of our program.”

Those four seniors include…

Shannon Garlie
Sarah Hettenbach Kath Liggett Stephanie Payne

“This team (my class in particular), has been like family to me,” said senior Kath Liggett. “We have gone through so much together, and this meet marks the end of a long journey for us.”

Echoing those sentiments is former KU swimmer and current volunteer assistant, Danielle Herrmann, who swam for Coach Campbell and the Jayhawks from 2005-09.

“I remember getting to senior day and thinking, `Wow the past four years have flown by so fast!’ Herrmann said. “It was a good time to reflect on all the amazing memories from my career and get in a great last swim at Robinson natatorium.”

Campbell hopes that the extra emotion of senior day, Liggett and Herrmann speak of, will also help spark the rest of the team toward victory.

“Hopefully it infuses some energy into them, because they are itching to race as well as be in front of the home crowd,” Campbell thought.

The Jayhawks last took to the Robinson waters on Nov. 19 versus Nebraska-Omaha, which was also the last time they swam in a dual meet. Their most recent competitive swims came during invitational formats at the Mizzou and Mayaguez Invites, in December and January.

Even though the pre-meet ceremonies will be for the four KU seniors, Campbell notes that the rising junior class will play an important role in their teammates’ final home meet.

“The pool will be decorated with different things, and it is all the junior class who does that,” Campbell explained. “In a sense there is a torch that is going to be passed on Saturday, and the juniors take it on as their responsibility to honor the class before them.”

Once the pre-meet festivities conclude, it will be time to race against a familiar opponent. Nebraska and Kansas have met a total of 34 times over the span of the last 36 seasons, with the Jayhawks owning a 22-12 advantage over their one time conference foes.

“Kansas and Nebraska is a very historic swimming rivalry,” Campbell said. “It will be strange not seeing them for Big 12’s, but at the same time, we are glad we can still swim against them in a dual meet.”

The Cornhuskers enter the meet at 2-0, out of the Big 10 Conference, with wins over South Dakota State (193-99) and Nebraska-Omaha (192-100). They are a relatively young squad, with just five seniors on the roster, but have a tremendous amount of experience on deck, as their head coach Pablo Morales, swam collegiately at Stanford and won a total of five Olympic medals (three gold and two silver), during the 1984 and 1992 summer games.

“Pablo is one of the greatest athletes in our sport and he has become a very good coaching friend of mine over the years,” Campbell said. “What he has brought to our area of the country is someone with big name recognition, so it is exciting to see someone of that stature be just up the road from us.”

Nebraska will make that short three and a half hour drive down I-29, Saturday as they visit Robinson Natatorium for the first time since the 2009-10 season. Kansas defeated the `Huskers during their last meeting in Lincoln, 180.5-114.5, and have not lost to their neighbors to the north since the 2004-05 season.

Senior Day ceremonies will take place shortly after 12:45pm inside Robinson Natatorium; the meet will start at 1 p.m.

** Because of the men’s basketball game versus Iowa State at 3 p.m., parking will be restricted for the meet. There will be specially designated parking for fans attending the KU/Nebraska meet in Lot 34, which is south of the computer services facility.

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