It’s Straight to Fort Worth and Back for Kansas Swimming and Diving
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Fort Worth native Madison Straight will have to move quickly through a line of friends and relatives attending Saturday’s dual at Big 12 foe TCU. She’s already given up hope of sampling Texas BBQ and her hair might not even be fully dry by the time the team arrives back in Lawrence – a down-and-back, speedy business trip for a team looking to swim fast in its second meet of the season.
Kansas, ranked No. 46 in the latest CollegeSwimming.com team rankings, gets its first look at league competition when the starter pistol fires for the 1 p.m., meet against the Horned Frogs inside the University Recreation Center.
A quick homecoming is a homecoming, nonetheless, and Straight, one of 14 Jayhawks with times among the nation’s top 150, is looking forward to swimming even faster in front of family, friends and her high school coach.
“I was really nervous,” Straight, a sophomore, said about competing on the road for the first time last year. “But it was fun to get to see what we can do and get away from our home atmosphere. I think this meet will be interesting because we fly there and back in the same day so hopefully we can keep our attitude good and everything for the whole day.
“I’m so excited. My whole family is coming and my old coach and then some old friends. It will be fun to get to be home for a bit.”
Kansas opened the 2015-16 campaign with a double-dual split against Denver and Missouri State at home last weekend, and looks to carry momentum from last year’s double dual win over TCU at Robinson Natatorium into this weekend’s showdown.
“Whenever it’s a fellow Big 12 school I think everyone gets a little more excited,” head coach Clark Campbell said. “It’s also our first road trip, I think that’s what our team is looking forward to the most –getting on the road and swimming somewhere outside of KU.”
TCU enters the weekend with a 3-1 record in 2015-16, while Kansas is coming off of a split. On paper, the Horned Frogs and Jayhawks stack up fairly evenly with KU’s 14 swimmers among the top 150 in their events, slightly out-numbering TCU’s 11.
Kansas will get a boost with the return of Yulya Kuchkarova, a 2015 FINA World Championships competitor who missed the first swim because of a wedding. She’ll join Straight and Hannah Angell in a formidable Jayhawk contingent in the backstroke events. Angell and TCU’s Madison Ibrahim are separated by just four-hundredths of a second in the 100 back, one of several notable match-ups to watch Saturday.
Kansas’ Chelsie Miller, who was named CollegeSwimming.com’s Big 12 Swimmer of the Week after lowering her own pool record in the 400-yard individual medley during a memorable Senior Day swim, ranks 13th in the nation (4:18.37) and reached an NCAA B standard already.
In the shorter medley race, the 200 IM, four swimmers, two per squad – Miller (KU), Straight (KU), Alexandra Robertson (TCU) and Devin Newton (TCU) – have all recorded season-best times within a second of one another.
The short trip is another small part of a long season that culminates with another look at the Horned Frogs at the Big 12 Championships in February, and further down the line, potential qualification for the Olympic Trials next summer. Kansas won nine of 19 total events in last weekend’s double-dual and will need a similar effort to topple TCU in its home pool.
“I’d like to see continued improvement,” Campbell said. “We kind of have a bar of where our times are right now. If we can just keep making steady progress and have purpose goals to make sure we are doing everything we can as individuals and as a team to be successful, then that’s kind of the goals of a dual-meet season.”
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