Jayhawks celebrate a historic season at team banquet

LAWRENCE, Kansas – Kansas swimming and diving concluded a memorable 2018-19 season Saturday afternoon at its annual awards banquet inside The Jayhawk Club. There the team recognized its seniors and handed out team awards to end another great year.

Seniors Haley Bishop, Cassaundra Pino and Taylor Sieperda gave their farewell speeches with love and laughter as they say their final lasting words to the team. Following the speeches, head coach Clark Campbell handed out six annual team awards to the team.

IronHawk Award: Haley Bishop
After four strong years on the team, Bishop is awarded the IronHawk award for her perseverance in the weight room this past season. As a senior, Bishop swam a leg in two record-breaking relays at the Big 12 Championship – the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:31.38) and the 800-yard freestyle relay (7:10.74). Bishop is also on the All Big 12 First Team and Academic All Big 12 First Team this season.

Academic Award: Taylor Sieperda
The Academic Award was presented to Taylor Sieperda for her impressive efforts not only in the pool but out as well. Graduating in May 2019, this senior plans on being a physical education teacher. During her time at Kansas, she was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team three years in a row, and was a recipient of the Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award this year. The award represents the highest academic honor one can receive in the Big 12 Conference.

KU swimmers dominated the dual, winning every race.
KU swimmers dominated the dual, winning every race.

Newcomer of the Year: Kate Steward
After being the only Kansas swimmer to win an event at the 2019 Big 12 Championship and holding a Kansas school record, Steward was set to be awarded the 2019 Newcomer of the Year award. This All-Big 12 First Teamer broke the Kansas 200-yard breaststroke twice in one day at the Conference meet with a final first-place and fastest time of 2:11.98. Steward holds the program’s second-fastest time in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:01.58. Steward also holds the 2018-19 season’s fastest time and top-five in program history in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:00.33 also at the conference meet.

Karen Dionne Most Inspirational Member Award: Haley Downey
Adored for her positive attitude, ability to cheer up any teammate, and hard work ethic, Downey is awarded the Karen Dionne Most Inspirational Member Award. The junior currently holds the Kansas school record for the 100-yard breaststroke after her performances at the Big 12 Championship (1:00.51) and second-fasted time in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:12.45). She also holds eight top-five finishes of the season including the third-place 400-yard individual medley relay at the Big 12 Championship (3:38.73).

Diver of the Year: Vicky Xu
It is no secret that Xu brought a spark to the team and made a life-long lasting impression on each teammate. She is awarded the Diver of the Year award after setting two school records at her first competition as a Jayhawk and didn’t stop there. She reset both records at home against Iowa State when she went 330.15 on the one-meter and 420.60 on the three-meter. Her three-meter score broke the Big 12 record, Kansas school record, and the Robinson Natatorium record. At the Big 12 Championship, Xu went to finals in all three events and took home gold on the three-meter for the first time ever in Kansas history. At the Zones diving competition, Xu dove her way to the NCAA Championships when she won the three-meter event and saw her way into finals on one-meter. At the NCAA Championship, Xu was a two-time All-American and was the first Kansas diver to go to the Championship and represent the Jayhawks by herself.

Tammy Thomas MVP Award: Jenny Nusbaum
Ending her junior year, Nusbuam holds three Kansas school records, one individual and two relays all set at the 2019 Big 12 Championship. She was awarded the Big 12 Swimmer of the Week (10/17) and holds eight 2018-19 season-best times. She broke the 200-yard freestyle Robinson pool record against Iowa State with a 1:48.05, and later broke the Kansas school record with a 1:45.68 in her leg of the 800-yard freestyle relay at the Big 12 Championship.

After a tough and rewarding season, Campbell looks at the banquet as the perfect way to celebrate all of the hard work that the whole team and staff have put in to make it an amazing year to put in the books for the program.

“Today was a wonderful celebration of our seniors and historic season,” Campbell said. “We’re so happy with all the team achieved this year.”