Home Events, Big Challenge Highlight Kansas Swimming and Diving Schedule
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Eight total events, including seven competitions inside historic Robinson Natatorium will give fans a glimpse of a promising Kansas swimming and diving squad and several Olympic hopefuls during the 2015-16 season.
With the addition of a new diving coach and five incoming swimmers, the Jayhawks will open the season with their annual intrasquad meet on Oct. 2. The meet will provide both the swimmers and divers an opportunity to get back in the pool and compete before the official season is underway. The meet will also allow fans to get a sneak peek of the talent that will be filling the pool, including Kansas All-American Chelsie Miller and incoming freshman Libby Walker who have already swam 2016 Olympic Trials cuts. Uzbekistan native, Yulya Kuchkarova could also have an opportunity to swim for her home country in the upcoming summer Olympics, having competed in the 2012 London games.
“We’re super excited about this year’s team,” Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said. “It seems like this summer all of our team has had the type of summer you have to have. They’ve trained well, raced in championship meets – some still have meets in August – they did what is expected out of a team that should be one of the best teams in the conference. It could be a really special team this year because of the upperclassmen and the inclusion of freshmen and transfer talent. We’re going to have a new and improved look to us and I look forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting to work.”
Fans will get another opportunity to see the Jayhawk’s in action as they commence the 2015-16 season with a double dual meet in Lawrence, Oct. 23-24. The meet will feature Denver and Missouri State, two teams that KU is familiar with as they swam against them last year in a double dual split. Denver spent time in the top-25 polls a season ago after topping Kansas and returns a talented squad.
Kansas will get its first look at Big 12 competition as it heads to Fort Worth, Texas to compete against conference foe, TCU, on Oct. 31. The Jayhawk’s will then head back home where they will close out 2015 with three home meets. The home stand will begin on Nov. 6 when Kansas hosts Nebraska.
“It’s good to be close to home, it really disrupts the training less and this year is all about the preparations,” Campbell said. “It’s a good schedule of meets at home or close to home against good competition so we can focus on preparing and getting ready for the Big 12 Championship, NCAA Championship, and the Olympic trials. I’m glad we’re going to be close to home for a large portion and be able to focus on the big picture.”
Next the Jayhawk’s will spit up with the diving team staying in Lawrence for the KU Dive Invite and the swimmers heading west 26 miles to Topeka, Kansas for the Big Challenge. Kansas will host five teams at Capitol Federal Natatorium. The meet will be a three-day, championship-style meet to give the team an idea of what the Big 12 Championship will be like, with an added twist of conference-affiliated competition for this season.
“We’re really interested to see how this goes – we’re modeling it after the conference challenges you see in basketball,” Campbell said. “Nebraska and Illinois will represent the Big 10, Kansas and Iowa State will represent the Big 12, and on the mid-major side, Nebraska-Omaha and Northern Iowa will be grouped together. We’ll run it like a standard meet, and the athletes will be focused on fast times individually, but the teams will pair up and represent their conferences and at the end we’ll crown a conference champion.”
KU will conclude the first half of the season in Robinson Natatorium for the Jayhawk Open, Dec. 4-5. The meet will be the last competition for a few weeks before the team heads to Miami, Florida in January.
While in Florida, the Jayhawks will compete in two double duals, the first against Florida International University and North Carolina State on Jan. 8. Kansas will then swim in a quad dual featuring Miami, Iowa and Rutgers the following day (Jan. 9). After the weekend of competition the Jayhawks will spend a week of training in Key Largo.
Kansas will wrap up its home season with a pair of meets in back-to-back weekends. The Jayhawk’s will welcome William Jewell and Tabor for their final double dual of the season on Jan. 23. Then the home finale will be against Nebraska-Omaha on Jan. 30.
The Jayhawk’s will conclude the season in Ames, Iowa where they will face Big 12 rivals, Iowa State on Feb. 5-6. The two-day meet will be the last meet KU has before heading to Austin, Texas for the Big 12 Championships, March 24-27.
Having faced two Big 12 opponents earlier in the season, Kansas will head to Austin with a feel for its competition. The Jayhawks placed third in the 2014-15 season, behind Texas and Iowa State, and hope to find their way back into the top-two in 2016.
While at the Big 12 Championships, KU will look to qualify swimmers for the NCAA Championships in Atlanta, Georgia March 17-19. In the past two seasons, Chelsie Miller has been the only Jayhawk representative at the championships. Last year Miller competed in the 200- and 400-yard individual medley and the 1,650-yard freestyle.
Miller and Bryce Hinde combined to break four Kansas records at the 2014 Big 12 Championship and four additional returners, including Haley Molden (senior), Hannah Angell (junior), Kuchkarova (junior) and Lydia Pocisk (sophomore), have times among Kansas’ all-time, top-five with an even faster 2015-16 season in mind. The Jayhawks were the league runner-up in 2014, the highest finish in program history, and couldn’t overcome a first-day relay DQ while finishing third last season. With four senior captains, Kansas eyes a return to the top two on the Big 12 leaderboard and qualifying multiple athletes for the NCAA Championship, before eventually sending a handful of Jayhawks to the 2016 Olympic Trials in Omaha.
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