Kansas Swimmers Prepare for Olympic Trials

May 16, 2012

As the week-long event approaches, each athlete’s training becomes more individualized and intense

It will have been exactly 1,450 days since the United States last held its swimming and diving Olympic Trial meet. During those four years much has changed around the sport’s national landscape, but for two current members of the University of Kansas squad, one thing that has remained constant is their shared desire to compete on that same stage in 2012.

“This is something that I have wanted since I was at least 15,” explained KU junior Brooke Brull. “So to make it to trials is such an honor.”

Brull, who will be a senior captain starting in 2012-13, will be making the trip with outgoing senior captain Stephanie Payne, who earned both of her trial times during the 2011 summer swimming season.

“To do this with Stephanie is awesome because I have competed with her since I was 10-years old,” the Lake Quivira, Kan. native said. “She was on (the) Wichita (swim club) and I was on Kansas City, so we were always competing against one-another.”

Brull became the latest Jayhawk Olympic Trial qualifier earlier this year when she tallied two trial cuts during sectionals in Jenks, Okla., March 3-4.

“I was so excited when she (Brull) made it because she was so close a couple months before,” Payne explained. “We always swim against each other in the 200 Individual Medley, so I am really glad that I am going with her.”

Both Payne and Brull will be competing in IM events at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha (June 25 – July 2), but each will be swimming a different distance. Brull will toe the starting block for the 200 IM, while her Jayhawk counterpart will do the same in the 400 IM. The pair has an additional event they will each swim as Brull can be seen in the pool during the 200 Back, while Payne will be making waves in the 200 Fly.

For Kansas head swimming and diving coach Clark Campbell this Crimson and Blue pilgrimage to Omaha is something that he and his athletes have put a lot of time and effort into.

“The last time trials happened in 2008 I went up there (to Omaha) for the meet and we did not have any swimmers competing,” he remembered. “I had never been madder, sitting in a meet than I was then, so I made a pact with myself that this will never happen again and that we are going to have KU athletes representing us (in 2012).”

With his newly-formed plan in place, Campbell and his staff got to work and formed their ‘quadrennial’ plan to place Jayhawk caps in the water four years later.

Fast forward to 2012 and the KU head coach will see at least three Kansas caps in the water along with two incoming freshmen in Chelsie Miller (Houston, Texas) during the 200/400 IM and 200 Breast as well as Hayley Molden (Topeka, Kan.) in the 100 Free.

The third Kansas swimmer to make the trip is none other than former Jayhawk standout Danielle Herrmann (2005-09), who qualified for trials swimming for Campbell and Kansas Aquatics in the 100 Breast as well as the 200 IM.

051612aac_564_673746.jpegHerrmann finished her collegiate swim career in 2009, but has chosen to stay on with Kansas as a volunteer assistant, while she completes her pharmacy degree.

“Danielle had a very bad end to her collegiate career (at the 2009 Big 12 Swimming & Diving Championships),” Campbell clarified. “So I am so glad that she has ridden this out to finish on her terms, because this is the way she should leave the sport.”

“This has been a dream of mine ever since I was seven years old and I watched my first Olympics,” Herrmann explained. “To be able to make it this far and actually be swimming in the Olympic Trials, I cannot think of a better way to end my career.”

While the trio of KU swimmers trains for its big week during the summer, each individual is aware of the special attention their training requires to eventually help their Olympic Trial dreams come true.

“Clark has been more individualized with me,” Payne explained. “For instance this morning in practice I did a 400 IM set, while everybody else did freestyle. Since I am not swimming anything else other than the 400 IM and 200 Fly, he is really focusing on those two events.”

“We all have different body types and they all work very differently,” Brull added. “I need a long taper (rest), so I train really hard and then Clark backs down the yardage day-by-day. This way the distance keeps getting less and less so you are finally rested when you get to that meet.”

Campbell agreed with his athletes about his trials training methods saying, “With the space that we have training wise it is really not that difficult. You just tailor the training to meet the events’ specific needs. Fifty freestylers need one type of thing, milers need something different but everyone else is kind of right there in the middle, so we just do a couple of little adjustments here and there.”

Some of those adjustments come outside of the pool and inside the weight room, where the swimmers find themselves right beside Kansas assistant strength and conditioning coach Luke Bradford.

“Luke doesn’t individualize as much as he lets us see how what we do in the weight room helps our swimming,” Payne thought. “We have never had that before so that obviously helps.”051612aac_564_7783653.jpeg

“With Luke I focus on a lot of power lifts, which will be important for starts, turns and pull-outs,” Herrmann explained. “Overall we are hitting every aspect and I feel very prepared going in.”

While the three Jayhawk swimmers prepare for trials in the remaining two-plus months, their coach is optimistic and focused on motivating his athletes up until their short trip north up I-29 to Omaha.

“What we want to do there is go and perform,” Campbell said. “We are not going to seek autographs from the best swimmers; we are going to compete with them.”

That attitude is echoed among Campbell’s swimmers who have an idea of how they want to perform.

“Being the competitor that I am, I want to go in a make a semi-final (top 15),” Herrmann said. “But going in I know the best attitude for me is to just go in and have fun.”

“It will be my last meet ever, so I want to do well but I do not have a specific goal as to what place I want to get,” Payne thought about what will most likely be her final competitive meet. “Obviously I am shooting for a best time but my main goal is to have fun and celebrate my entire swimming career.”

While some of the KU swimmers have specific times and places on their mind, all of them know that they are there for not only themselves but the letters across their chest and the logo on their cap.

“I just love wearing KU swimming and diving shirts around campus,” Brull said. “So to represent (my school) at an Olympic meet where Michael Phelps is, will be so sweet.”

051612aac_564_7783679.jpeg“This is one of the biggest meets that everyone who is a swimmer wants to go to,” Campbell explained. “So we are going to go, get best times and let the chips fall where they may.”

Campbell and his staff hope there will be more than just three KU caps in the pool June 25 through July 2 as his swimmers will have more opportunities to earn trial cuts with various long course events (meters) in the coming weeks.

Olympic Trials Info: http://www.usaswimming.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=1450&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en-US