Jayhawks Ready for Fall Championships
Nov. 14, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. - The University of Kansas swimming and diving team will divide and conquer this week to compete in its fall championship meets. The Jayhawk divers will kick off the weekend Thursday, heading to Houston, Texas for the Phill Hansel Invite, while KU's swimmers take to the pool on Friday for the Kansas Classic at Capital Federal Natatorium in Topeka, Kan.
"Going into the meet, Notre Dame is definitely the prohibitive favorite," Kansas head coach Clark Campbell said. "They are ranked in the top-20 and they are very strong. They have put up points at the NCAA's and they have several Olympic Trial qualifiers, so they are going to be the team everyone else is gunning for."
The championship style, consist of preliminaries in the morning and finals in the evenings, which will also benefit the Jayhawks. The format reflects that of the Big 12 and NCAA Championships this spring. Swimmers will compete in the preliminary rounds to qualify for the finals giving the Jayhawks added experience in finding the combination needed to be good in the prelims and even better in the finals.
"This is the first experience (of a championship style format) for this team, this year," Campbell said. "It is really important for us to learn the system we have to follow when we are at a championship meet. We had a really good week of training last week. The kids were firing on all cylinders, in the weight room and in the pool, so it was a really good week and I know they are looking forward to getting some rest this week."
The use of the non-technical suits is really what makes the Kansas Classic so unique. According to Campbell, this time of the year is `open season' as far as suits are concerned, but the coaches involved in the events this week all have similar beliefs in regards to training. If all goes according to plan, this strategy will help all the teams participating later on during championship season.
"Our goal for our athletes is to see how close they can get to their goal times, without the tech suits," Campbell said. "It will be a great challenge and because we don't train in the technical suits, we get a lot of good data and have very realistic time goals moving forward as we get toward Big 12's. I think this will be a good experience and it is not something that is done much anymore."
This is the first time in Campbell's tenure that the Jayhawks have hosted a fall championship with the magnitude of the Kansas Classic. If all goes according to plan, it won't be the last.
"I definitely want to keep this up," said Campbell about the event. "We have a great partnership with the folks over in Topeka. We have a lot of schools in our area that are looking for an opportunity like this. This is the first run, so we are going to do the best job we can, to put together the best event we can for the student-athletes. There is a lot of national interest on how this meet will go, because we are hosting a meet that says `no tech suits,' so we may be starting a trend, but we will know the Kansas Classic is where it started. It should be a really fun three days."
"This is our first championship format, where we get to dive like we will at conference or zones," Kansas diving coach Eric Elliott said. "We will get to see a lot of the kids that we are going to be diving against in our zone and at the conference championship and it is a very high quality meet. There are a lot of good teams that are coming. There will be a really good mix of all the conferences there, so that will be good for the kids to see, especially the freshmen."
The Jayhawks will return to the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center Natatorium (CRWC), which is the same facility they competed in during their dual against Rice earlier this season. This is also the same facility that the Jayhawks will use when they compete in the NCAA Zone Championships in March. Two opportunities to use the facility beforehand will allow the girls to develop a comfort level when trying to qualify for nationals.
"That is where our zone meet will be at the end of the year, so having two opportunities to dive in the facility that we are going to try and qualify for nationals in, is a good experience for them," Elliott said. "We are hoping to get in and use the facility and learn some new dives."
Going against some of the best divers in the country will be a tough early test for the Jayhawk divers, but rather than focusing solely on this week's results, Elliott is looking toward performances down the road.
"My goal is more for the end of the season than for this meet," Elliott said. "I want them to have the best opportunity to perform, but really placing at this meet doesn't matter all that much to me. What I want to see is mental toughness and performing well in things that we have been working on like mechanics."
Diving against this kind of competition early in the year will also allow the girls to see where they are against other divers in their zone and what they need to do training wise before March.
"I think it is a good measuring stick, for the girls to see where they are compared to a lot of the kids they are diving against," Elliott said. "For the freshmen that is big, because they still have to see that. It will let us know what we need to work on for winter training for the rest of the season."
The three-day meet features all three diving events and the event order is as follows:
Friday, Nov. 16
Saturday, Nov. 17
At the conclusion of the week, the Jayhawks will begin training for their spring semester. That schedule begins on Saturday, Jan., 12, when Kansas travels to Los Angeles, Calif., for a double dual against San Diego State and host UCLA at Spieker Aquatics Center.
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