Happy New Year for Kansas Swimming and Diving

LAWRENCE, Kan. – There were no party hats and the closest thing to Auld Lang Syne was the hum of the vents above the Robinson Natatorium practice pool, but Kansas swimming and diving celebrated the start of a new season with a spirited opening practice Monday afternoon.

“It’s like New Year’s Day,” a giddy Clark Campbell, head coach of the Jayhawks, said poolside. “For our calendar, the first day of practice in the fall is the start of a new year for swimming and diving so everything is based off of that. We’ve had our Christmas break, so to speak, and now we’re back at it swimming here.”

Campbell wasn’t the only one smiling, as all but two of last year’s Jayhawk swimmers returned to their home pool along with a talented class of five freshman and a transfer. The newcomers’ happiness will be tested early Tuesday morning, however, as the team starts its first of many stadium practices. A run up Memorial Stadium’s stairs begins at 6:15 a.m., followed by wheels, field sprints and battling ropes, a cross-fit-like training regimen that Campbell calls the most difficult thing the team does in the fall.   

“They know it’s coming but it’s tough to describe to a newcomer because it’s not something most club teams do,” Campbell said, and then with a grin, “I’ll really see how we are fitness-wise tomorrow.”

Monday’s session served as a relative social event of sorts, but it wasn’t the first time the entire crew has been together. Last week the team attended numerous meetings with various departments and met the support staff that will get the team through the 2015-16 season. The team also had its annual poster and media guide photo shoot on Sunday evening in the Lied Center parking lot.

Still, Monday’s practice offered the first chance for the team to swim together officially.

“For us in the water right now, it’s very low key,” Campbell said. “We do a lot of technical stuff, very low-intensity aerobic stuff just to get them back in. Really the hard work is on land right now – they’re working hard in the weight room and stadiums, running and all that type of stuff. The swimming is very light, it almost has a recovery component to it because of how hard they’re working on land. We take it pretty easy in the water, let them fine tune things and get ready for all the racing we have coming up.”

True to form on traditional New Year’s Day, Campbell said his talented squad has been doing plenty of thinking about plans for the season, including a return to the top two in the Big 12 Conference and sending a handful of competitors to the NCAA Championships along with returning All-American Chelsie Miller. This year has added excitement with the Olympic Trials less than a year away and a chance for the very best athletes to represent their countries at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

“Our New Year’s resolution would be to go from a good to a great team culture, and just getting our team to perform at its best for the Big 12 Championship, NCAA Championship and Olympic Trials,” Campbell said. “Really our resolutions were set last week and we’ve started the process of getting there.”

Kansas will begin the 2015-16 season on Oct. 2 with an intrasquad meet before opening the regular season in a double dual against Denver and Missouri State, Oct. 23-24. Both meets will be held inside Robinson Natatorium and are free to attend.

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