Kansas Swimming & Diving 2011-12 Season Preview
Sept. 27, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. — The 2011-12 season is almost here for the Kansas Jayhawk swimming and diving team as it officially opens up its campaign with an intrasquad meet this Friday, September 30, at 4 p.m. inside Robinson Natatorium.The Jayhawks will compete in four home dual meets this season, their first coming on October 29 vs. Illinois and then another November 11 against rival Missouri. KU will make two trips to Columbia following the Tigers’ visit to Lawrence, its first being for the Mizzou Invite (December 2-4) and the second for the Big 12 Championships (February 22-25). Clark Campbell’s squad will host its final dual meet of the season on November 19, vs. Nebraska-Omaha.
The upcoming season will also feature road dual meets against non-conference opponents Arizona (October 8), Minnesota (October 21), former Big 12 foe Nebraska (January 14) and Arkansas on January 21. KU will take on Northern Iowa and North Dakota in its first and only double-dual meet of the season Saturday, October 22and will close out the 2011-12 regular season with a two-day dual meet against Iowa State in Ames, February 3-4.
The Roster: Swimmers
The Jayhawks debut another strong senior class in 2011-12 as all five were key contributors in the team’s 10-5 dual record and 2-1 Big 12 Conference mark in 2010-11. Five new faces will don KU suits this fall, including three freshmen and two juniors. Leading Kansas this year will be its three senior captains; Shannon Garlie, Sarah Hettenbach and Stephanie Payne, as well as fellow seniors Abigail Anderson and Kath Liggett. The Jayhawks have a strong upper class as nine juniors compliment their five senior swimmers.
Kansas adds two new faces to its freestyle corps this season in junior newcomers Vanessa Hanbury and Svetlana Golovchun. Hanbury comes to Lawrence from Indian River State College in Florida, while Golovchun will now call KU home after swimming at Surgut State in her home country of Russia.
“Svetlana is one of the top swimmers in her country and Vanessa is a two-time junior college swimmer of the year,” said head Coach Clark Campbell. “So I think in those areas we will be very strong.”
Also contributing in the free category are sophomores Shelby Cox and Kara Stranski as well as junior Madison Wagner. Cox is coming off an injury sustained this summer, but showed promise last season, scoring points for her team in the 2011 Big 12 Championships in Austin, Texas. Senior captain Sarah Hettenbach will add much leadership and depth to this group as she looks to improve upon a solid 2010-11 campaign.
Kansas is led in this category by junior Rebecca Swank, who had a solid summer swimming for Kansas Aquatics and is close to her Olympic Trial cut in both the 400 and 800 free. Also contributing in the distance free is sophomore Alison Moffit, who swims the 200 and 500 free and senior captain Shannon Garlie. Sophomore Morgan Sharp “improved a lot and really got the program figured out,” said Coach Campbell. “Now she knows what the expectations are here, so we are expecting big things out of her.” Fellow sophomore Malia Johnson is also someone who adds depth to the 500 and 1,000 free events.
Senior Abigail Anderson stands out in this category as she narrowly missed the NCAA Championships in the 100 fly the last few years and is looking to make a splash during her final season in Lawrence.
“Senior Kath Liggett had a tremendous summer and is our new team record holder in the 100-meter butterfly because of her performance at sectionals,” said Campbell.
Also adding depth in that category is sophomore Malia Johnson, who was a national qualifier in the 200 butterfly at the 2011 Big 12 Championships as well as Stephanie Payne, who is another national qualifier in the 200 fly and has improved her 100 fly quite a bit, according to her coach. Joining Johnson and Payne will be two freshmen in Deanna Marks and Rachel Snyder. Marks will be looked upon right away to contribute in those areas as will Snyder who was a national qualifier during high school in the 200 fly.
Anderson is the top returner in the group for the coming season. The senior is coming off a summer in which she made her relay Nationals cuts in the 100 and 200 meter backstrokes. “Abigail is somebody who we will be looking to lead-off the medley, especially in the 200,” said Campbell. “She is a dynamite 50-yard backstroker, so she will no doubt be leading the way.”
Junior Brooke Brull will be another solid contributor in the backstroke events as well fellow junior Alyssa Rudman. Freshman Caroline Patterson will add depth to the backstroking corps and as Coach Campbell put it “will lead this event down the road in her career.” Patterson will follow in the path of sophomore Sara Snow, who was a newcomer to the team and event in 2010-11 and will provide strong leadership to the group.
The Jayhawks will have a relatively young look to the breaststroke corps as sophomore and national qualifier Alison Lusk heads up the group. Following Lusk will be juniors Brittany Rospierski and Cora Powers, who Campbell says had “fantastic summers” swimming for Kansas Aquatics. Rounding out the group is senior Stephanie Payne, who will contribute heavily during dual meets in the 200.
The unquestionable leader for Kansas in this event is another senior captain in Payne, whose 4:51.46 time in the 400 IM during Nationals this past summer gave her a second event to compete in during the 2012 Olympic Time Trials in Omaha.
“Stephanie has had just a remarkable run in both the 200 and 400 IM, but we would like to get her 200 (time) faster,” said Campbell. “If we do that, it will help her 400 IM, which is an event she can swim in the NCAA Championships.”
Brull will return for another solid campaign and hope to improve in the 200 IM, where Coach Campbell brands her as “one of our fastest swimmers in the event.” Also seeing time in the 200 IM slot will be Lusk, who will looked upon to score points for KU during dual meets and Big 12’s, as well as fellow junior Brittany Rospierski, who will help out in the shorter IM events.
Specializing in the 400 IM will be Moffit, who had a solid end of her sophomore campaign. “Last year Alison pretty much shocked everybody in the program with how well she did in the 400 IM at Big 12’s,” Campbell remembered. “She scored some points and came very close to making her USA National cut, so we expect big things out of her this year as well.”
Junior Rebecca Swank teams up with Moffitt as a fellow scorer at last year’s Big 12 Championships and will add some depth and experience to the 400 IM.
Kansas returns two divers from a year ago, one of which qualified for the NCAA Zone “D” Diving Championships in junior Christy Cash. Sophomore Alyssa Golden will try to build a solid foundation for her upcoming seasons.
Sophomore Alyssa Golden will look to improve in the one-meter dive, which is already her strongest event, while junior Christy Cash will provide solid depth and experience. Both Golden and Cash tallied career-best scores in the one-meter in 2010-11 and will have a good chance at eclipsing their 243.25 and 272.25 scores, respectively.
“Alyssa now has her first year under her belt and knows what this conference is all about,” said KU diving coach Eric Elliott. “She is a super-hard worker and learns very well, so just knowing what to expect this year and how hard she is going to have to work is an important step in the right direction.”
Cash leads the way in the three-meter events, where she compiled a 224.40 score at the Zone “D” Diving Championships last season. Her career-best score of 246.90 came earlier in the season against Iowa State. This season, Coach Elliott expects her to improve in this event as well as the two others she competes in.
“I think this year she is really going to step it up,” Elliott said. “We are changing her hurdle a little bit and she is learning some new dives, so she is starting to beef up her degree of difficulty, which is important.”
Golden will add depth to the event. She, along with Cash, received career best scores in the three-meter event last season.
The platform is Cash’s strongest event according to Elliott, who thinks she should improve this season, especially with a trip to Columbia in early December, where she will get to practice at the Mizzou Invite.
“Junior year is usually a pretty good step for divers,” Elliott said. “If they keep it going, which she (Cash) has been healthy, knock on wood, by her senior year, she is going to be able to really dive well.”
Cash tallied a career-high score of 225.60 in the event during the Big 12 Championships last season and finished 22nd in the platform at the Zone “D” Championships last March.
In 2011-12, the Jayhawks will boast one of the most seasoned and experienced coaching staffs they have had in recent memory.
Former KU swimming standout Danielle Herrmann returns for her second season as a volunteer assistant. Herrmann continues to swim competitively, as she suited up for Coach Campbell and Kansas Aquatics over the summer, finishing with two of the five fastest times on the team.
Joining Herrmann on deck will be former teammate Joy Bunting, who after finishing up her senior season last year, will stay on with the team as a student assistant coach.
“Having a consistent coaching staff over the last eight years has led to much success and efficiency in our program,” said assistant swim coach Jen Fox. “With the addition of Danielle and Joy working with us, I believe that we can provide the team with one of the best coaching staffs and resources possible.”
Herrmann and Bunting will serve under Clark Campbell, who enters his 10th season as head coach. Campbell’s decade within Kansas Athletics is tied for the fifth longest in the department and he is only the sixth head coach out of 13 to have been at KU for 10 years or longer.
Right beside Campbell is Fox, who has been an assistant for nine years now as well as head diving coach Eric Elliott, who is entering his eighth season. “I have been fortunate to have made two great hires with Jen Fox and Eric Elliott,” Campbell said. “We have all been around for a long time, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we work well together as a coaching staff.”
New to the staff this season will be volunteer diving coach Ryan Meeker, who will be assisting Elliott with the diving corps. Meeker brings prior coaching experience and a successful four-year diving career at Missouri to Lawrence. He is currently the head coach of the Jayhawk Diving Club.