Looking Back on KU Swimmers' Olympic Trials Experience
July 2, 2012
OMAHA, Neb. - With all of the Kansas swimmers having competed in their respective events, there won't be any more Jayhawk caps in the water inside the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. That doesn't mean though that the crop of five current, former or future Jayhawks have not left sizeable waves inside the pool.
The highlight of the week-long Kansas swimming experience came on the third day of competition, when former KU standout Danielle Herrmann (2005-09) finished first in her heat during preliminaries of the 200 IM with a lifetime best time of 2:18.07. That performance placed her 33rd overall out of 124 competitors. Herrmann's first swim during Trials was on Tuesday during prelims of the 100 breast, where she finished with a time of 1:12.87.
Not to be outdone by her Kansas counterpart, outgoing senior captain Stephanie Payne also put a successful cap on her swim career by toeing the blocks for a pair of events. Her first came on day number one of Trials in the 400 IM where she finished with a time of 4:56.46 during preliminaries. Her second and final swim came on the fourth day of competition during the 200 fly prelims when she touched the wall at 2:18.38, which was good enough for her second best time in the event.
While Herrmann and Payne got out of the pool inside the CenturyLink Center for the final time, soon-to-be team captain Brooke Brull gave herself an experience to build on heading into her senior campaign. Like her former teammates, Brull too was competing in a pair of events during preliminary competition in Omaha.
First up for the Lake Quivira, Kan. native was the 200 IM on Wednesday, where she finished with a time of 2:21.25, which was her second best time in the event. Brull's second and final event came on Saturday in the 200 back. The soon-to-be senior raced to the wall with a time of 2:19.34 and a 122nd place finish during preliminaries.
Each day during the Olympic Trials offered something a little different for head coach Clark Campbell and his swimmers. Friday was no different as the future of the Jayhawk swimming program was on display when incoming freshmen Chelsie Miller and Haley Molden toed the blocks in separate events.
This was not the first time Kansas had incoming freshman competing at Olympic Trials, as back in 2008 both Brittany Rospierski and Alison Lusk were representing their club teams with a Kansas career on the horizon.
Molden, a Topeka, Kan. native was competing in her first and only event in Omaha and finished the prelims of the 100 free with a time of 57.68, which was less than a second off of her 56.94 mark she earned at Junior Nationals earlier this year. The Washburn Rural graduate came to Olympic Trials with a lot of momentum, having set two state records and winning four gold medals at the 2012 Kansas Class 6A State Swimming Championship this past May.
The KU swimmer with the most Trial cuts to compete in during the week-long event was not a post-graduate or current Jayhawk, but came in the form of a future Kansas student-athlete. Enter Houston, Texas native Chelsie Miller. Miller who swims for former KU assistant coach Clayton Cagle and the Cypress Fairbanks Swim Club, toed the blocks for her first event on Monday morning during preliminaries of the 400 IM. That's where she finished with a time of 4:57.34, which was within a minute of fellow Jayhawk Stephanie Payne.
The soon-to-be KU freshman's second event came during the third day of competition as she swam to a time of 2:24.50 in preliminary competition, placing her just three spots behind her future teammate Brooke Brull. Miller's final Olympic Trials event was on Friday (the fifth day of competition), when she touched the wall with a time of 2:43.24 during prelims of the 200 meter breaststroke.
"Their plan is 2016 and this meet is all about making four years from now a lot more comfortable," said head coach Clark Campbell about his crop of incoming freshmen.
While Campbell and his staff look forward to the arrival of Molden and Miller on campus in August, they also will be missing the presence of another prominent pair of KU swimmers in Stephanie Payne and Danielle Herrmann, who officially closed out their competitive swimming careers in Omaha.
"It has been really interesting because we close a chapter on Danielle and Stephanie but this week we are opening a whole new chapter with Chelsie and Haley," Campbell explained.
The KU head coach took time to reflect on the careers of both Herrmann and Payne as he saw each one come to a close in person.
"Seven years together is long time for a simmer/coach relationship and for Danielle to go out like that was just awesome," he thought. "It has also been a great run for Stephanie and she has been such a big part of our program for four years. She didn't leave anything in the pool, and I could not be any more proud of her."
Making the loss of Payne and Herrmann to the KU program a little bit easier will be the return of Brull and the arrival of Miller and Molden, who will all have at least one Trials swim under their belt when the 2012-12 season rolls around. Assistant coach Jen Fox felt these experiences will go a long way in helping them during the grueling regular swim season.
"I think it will give them confidence and hopefully provide good leadership," Fox explained. "It will be fun to have two freshmen and a senior as kind of book-ends to add strength to our program."
Jayhawk swimmers and divers return to competitive action Fri. Sept. 28 when they compete in the team's annual intrasquad meet, set to take place inside Robinson Natatorium.