Road Trips to Regional Rivals Dot 2016-17 Swimming & Diving Schedule
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas swimming and diving head coach Clark Campbell will use any tool necessary to help drive home a point or try to make his swimmers better. During a recent practice, the Jayhawks’ leader used a protractor to demonstrate the optimal arm angle for a particular stroke and he may well have used a compass from his geometry toolbox while drawing up the team’s 2016-17 schedule. Kansas swimmers will leave a 300-mile radius just twice during the regular season – a team training trip to California and the Big 12 Championships in Austin, Texas – while dueling several regional rivals on the road.
Although short in distance, Kansas’ road trips won’t be without stiff challenge. The Jayhawks visit former Big 12 foe Nebraska in Lincoln on Nov. 5, the team’s first swims in the Devaney Natatorium since Jan. 15, 2011. The brief 200-mile jaunt that sets up a rematch from last year’s 180.5-119.5 Kansas win at Robinson Natatorium.
“We started it last year and it was a real exciting meet here and now we’ll return the trip there,” Campbell said of the series with the Cornhuskers. “It still goes back to the Big Eight days. It’s kind of a hostile environment which is good for us to go and be strong with. We have some Nebraska kids on the team like Nadia Khechfe and (incoming freshman) Elizabeth Amato-Hanner and we’re always recruiting up there. It’s always a good time to go up there and get in really good competition. They’ll be fired up, Nebraska always swims well at home.”
One of KU’s biggest challenges will be in the spring, when the Jayhawks make two trips during a three-weekend-straight-load-up prior to resting for the Big 12 Championships in Austin. That flurry of meets features a short 300-mile trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and a showdown with the Razorbacks on Jan. 28. Arkansas tallied the program’s third-highest point total at the 2016 SEC Championships before sending two individual swimmers, one diver and two relay teams to the NCAA Championships. The Razorbacks bested Kansas in Robinson Natatorium, 194-105, two seasons ago in the teams’ last meeting.
Kansas will also swim at William Jewell College (Jan. 21) in Liberty, Missouri, for the second time in three years and closes that trio of meets with its annual championship-style Big 12 tune-up with Iowa State in Lawrence on Feb. 3-4.
“It’s all built around peaking primetime for Big 12s and NCAAs in February and March,” Campbell said. “The fall is kind of an opportunity to figure out the team because each year the team’s different. We use the first couple months just to do that and allow them the opportunity to rest a little bit for Kansas Classic and just see where they are, then really take it a whole other level after that.
“During the real championship season, we use the first few meets just to see where they are and then we’ll rest and we’ll know where their baseline is. We have another batch of dual meets and kind of use those as gauges for their race readiness and then take that into conference.”
In all, the Jayhawks will swim just four events at their home inside historic Robinson Natatorium while also hosting the Kansas Classic (Nov. 18-20) at Topeka’s Capitol Federal Natatorium and the College Swim Coaches Association of America’s (CSCAA) Collegiate Open Water Championships (Sept. 17) at Lone Star Lake.
Kansas will offer the first glimpse of its squad in the pool during the annual Crimson and Blue Intrasquad on Sept. 30 at 4 p.m., before welcoming North Dakota and Missouri State for a two-day double dual to officially open the season Oct. 21-22. Less than a week later, the Jayhawks play host to fellow Big 12 member TCU for a rare Thursday swim at 2 p.m.
The Nebraska meet on Nov. 5 marks the first of seven-straight competitions away from Robinson for the Jayhawks – although the team has swum fast times in their adopted home in Topeka over the past several years. This year’s Kansas Classic field will include Iowa State, Nebraska, Northern Arizona, Arkansas-Little Rock and Northern Iowa and will resume its format as strictly a championship-style meet.
The Kansas divers will compete at the Minnesota Invite in Minneapolis, Minnesota Dec. 2-4 to cap the fall semester and the team will use winter break for its annual training trip, flipping back to the West Coast with swims against UCLA and Boise State (Jan. 6) with another competitive swim in Southern California possible.
“They’re all very, very good,” Campbell said of the California competition. “Boise State swims very well all the time. They race well all the time. That will be, by far, the hardest week we will have all year.”
The Jayhawks re-wrote the Mabee Center record books during their last trip to William Jewell two seasons ago and will use that meet as a starting point to ramp up competition during the critical stretch leading into the league meet. Kansas scored its highest point total ever at the 2016 Big 12 Championship and has finished second in two of the last three years.
“One thing we can’t do is put on this team the same expectations that we put on the last team,” Campbell said. “Every team deserves their own level of expectation. I mean, we’ll still have high expectations and the bar has been set really really high. One of the things we’re going for this year is the team being good, better, best – what we want to do is be the best versions of ourselves and what’s that going to look like athletically, academically and culturally. This is a time where we can take our team and our team culture to a whole new level. We had such a big group stay this summer that we’ve had a lot of cohesion.”
The league meet will again be hosted by the Longhorns on Feb. 22-25. This year’s NCAA Zone Diving Championships are being held just down the road in Columbia, Missouri, on March 6-8, and the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, March 15-18.
All Kansas home meets – at Robinson Natatorium, Topeka’s Capitol Federal Natatorium and Lone Star Lake – are free and open to the public. The team returns 22 contributors from a season ago while welcoming seven talented freshmen to the mix. Kansas will be led by nine seniors, including captains Hannah Angell, Lindsay Manning, Amanda Maser and Sammie Schurig. Three Kansas swimmers competed among the nation’s best at US Olympic Trials over the summer, including sophomore Libby Walker and incoming freshmen Haley Downey and Jenny Nusbaum.
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