House divided, swimming and diving set for intrasquad

Crimson Squad 
Hannah Driscoll
T.J. Duckett
Nadia Khechfe
Yulduz Kuchkarova
Amanda Maser
Pia Pavlic
Leah Pfitzer
Gretchen Pocisk
Lydia Pocisk
Katy Schlies
Sammie Schurig
Carly Straight
Zoya Wahlstrom
Libby Walker
Blue Squad
Elizabeth Amato-Hanner
Hannah Angell
Brie Balsbough
Breonna Barker
Haley Bishop
Peri Charapich
Haley Downey
Nika Fellows
Madison Hutchison
Lindsay Manning
Jenny Nusbaum
Cassaundra Pino
Taylor Sieperda
Madison Straight

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The only way to divide a close-knit team is to literally divide the team and the lines have been drawn for Kansas swimming and diving. After a draft by the team captains split the unified group into two, faux tensions have bubbled up throughout the week and came to a head Wednesday inside the DeBruce Center. Members of the Blue team heckled members of the Crimson team briefly during lunch, then the two sides ate peacefully together.

There will be no sustained peace until the end of competition Friday, when the two teams square off inside Robinson Natatorium at 4 p.m., an event which is free and open to the public and student body.   

“There was some back-and-forth between Crimson and Blue,” Blue team captain Hannah Angell said of the DeBruce incident. “We’re very spirited and it’s going to be fun.”

Angell and Lindsay Manning drafted against fellow senior captains Amanda Maser and Sammie Schurig at a captains meeting last Friday in head coach Clark Campbell’s office and two evenly-matched but distinctly different teams were formed.

“We did a projected score of this meet, the first team to 48 wins,” said Campbell, who will get his first glimpse of his 2016-17 squad in competition. “Right now one team is 48 the other is 47. They did a good job of drafting their teams and putting them into events. I’m sure they’re going to be very well-coached. It’s going to be a much different meet than last year.”

In last year’s intrasquad, then-KU freshman Haley Bishop stormed to a pair of individual event wins – then won just about every race she swam the rest of the year – while the Blue team rolled to a 59-35 win. Angell and Manning have retained Bishop and are employing a similar freshman-focused strategy by nabbing four of the seven available newbies, including Haley Downey and Jenny Nusbaum, who each competed at the US Olympic Trials over the summer.

“I’m very excited about the freshmen,” Angell said. “Lindsay and I purposely had the majority of our team be freshmen because we’re extremely excited to see what they can do. I think they have a ton of potential and it will just be fun to see them race for the first time.”

Conversely, the Crimson squad will counter with experience as Maser and Schurig snapped up all the available remaining seniors – six total – including Yulya Kuchkarova, who sits second on KU’s all-time leaderboard in both the 100- and 200-yard backstroke, Pia Pavlic, Leah Pfitzer and Gretchen Pocisk. The Crimson team also drafted Kansas sophomore Libby Walker, another 2016 Olympic Trials participant who recently tied with Bishop for the inaugural CSCAA National Collegiate Open Water Championship at Lone Star Lake.  

“I’m really excited to compete,” Maser, one of four divers, including three on the Crimson side, said. “We’re having fun with it. When we see each other walking to class we’re like, ‘You’re not on my team, we’re going to win.’ I think it’s good to get in competition mode.”

Similar to years prior, the event will feature one heat of each race and should last less than an hour. Diving will consist of one-meter competition only and each competitor will have three dives. Though abbreviated, it will provide the first look at the 2016-17 squad and offer the freshman class an introduction to live competition inside Robinson Natatorium.

“I did my first intrasquad meet in 1984, I still remember it,” Campbell, a former KU swimmer himself, said. “It’s their first college meet, so to speak. You get to show your stuff in front of your teammates and it’s a very low-key, low-risk meet. It’s an easy to start the collegiate season but the racing is going to be very intense. I know the freshmen are very excited to show what they’re made out of.”

The team will re-unify following the meet and turn its focus to the season opener against Missouri State and North Dakota (Oct. 21-22), much to the relief of those close to the program, and those uncomfortable facing off with their closest friends.

“We’ve been trash-talking each other,” Angell said, “in nice ways.” The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.