Jayhawks Head to Austin for Big 12 Championships
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas swimming and diving team will begin postseason competition at the 2014 Big 12 Championships Wednesday, Feb. 26, through Saturday, March 1 in Austin, Texas at the Jamail Texas Swimming Center.
Kansas, 7-5 in dual meets this season, will look to improve on its fourth-place finish from a year ago, hoping to finish at least second, which would be a program best in the Big 12 era.
“The vibe these past couple weeks during preparation has been great,” head coach Clark Campbell said. “You can tell there is a lot of energy in the building. Whenever they taper, they get excited and finish practice invigorated instead of exhausted. It’s been fun to watch them go through this metamorphosis.”
The Jayhawks head to Austin led by the talents of sophomore Chelsie Miller. The Houston, Texas native has set KU all-time records this season in the 200-yard butterfly (1:58.58) and in the 1000-yard freestyle (9:51.70). She also grabbed silver in the 400-yard individual medley (4:08.86) at the 2013 AT&T Winter Nationals. She and the rest of the team has had a three-week break to prepare for the championships.
“We are in the midst of our taper,” Campbell said. “It’s a gradual reduction in the training they are doing both in the water and on land. It’s allowing them to see the effects of a training season by letting them rest, which is an important part of the equation when preparing for a meet like this. It will hopefully lead to fast races this week.”
Miller is accompanied by a talented group of seniors including Morgan Sharp, who holds top times for the Jayhawks in all freestyle events and Alison Lusk, who set a school record in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:14.46 earlier this season.
“We are going to be led by our seniors like we have been all year,” Campbell said. “They have the most experience. Everyone wants all seniors to go out with a bang because for most of them this is the last time they will compete collegiately. We treat the conference championships as a celebration of the season. We have been at work for six months. We want to go in there and celebrate the fact that we have been committed, worked hard, been supportive and have done the types of things – as a team – that help an individual get to where they want to be.”
With championship-style meets, it is important to have depth. The meet will be scored through 16 places. The top eight finishers during preliminary competition will swim in the championship final, while the next eight will swim in the consolation final. All of those 16 places will score points toward the team total.
“We are really strong all three days,” Campbell said. “We don’t have a weak event in the sense that we have a shot of getting to the championship final with one or more athletes in each event. The way we are projecting our performances to be, we should be successful in every race. With that said, we will take it race by race and day by day.”
At the beginning of the training season in August, each team member sat down with Campbell to discuss season goals and how to achieve them. As a result, each Jayhawk knows what is expected of them and has a clear picture going into the conference championship.
“They are there to achieve their goals and let everything else take care of itself,” Campbell said. “We have a clear vision of what we want to do. Each swim and each dive is important. We want to finish with strong times in the morning so it sets us up to swim for glory at night. We want to get in there and have athletes be where they should be. It’s all about reaching goals. We are on track to do that and if we reach, the results will follow.”
The team arrived in Austin late Monday, and will head to the facility on Tuesday to become acclimated to where they will be competing for the next few days. The team has seven members back in their home state for the competition.
“The nice thing is we have several girls form Texas, so for them it will be like going home,” Campbell said. “We will let the team get used to the facility. It’s important to adapt and overcome. The great thing about the natatorium is one of the best facilities in the world and it’s easy to adapt to. It’s a great venue for peak performances.”
The first event of the 2014 Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships is slated to begin at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
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