200 yard freestyle relay
The Texas women had a great performance in the 200 free relay with a 1:28.15 that ranks them second in the country behind only Auburn. You’ve gotta like this relay’s chances for a medal at NCAA’s, because they are not overly dependent on a single swimmer. This means that an individual swimmer can have an off-night, and they can still perform very well. Their fastest split was a 21.83 from Karlee Bispo, and all four swimmers were 22.2 or better. That’s impressive depth that will take them far in March.
A&M was also surprisingly good in what is probably their weakest relay. Their overall time was 1:29.48, and freshman Liliana Ibanez anchored them in a 21.87. This is a relay that’s one more 22-low away from being right up with the Longhorns amongst the better squads in the nation, but none-the-less is a very young group (with three freshman) that is a definite work-in-progress. Missouri was third in a 1:30.80 that will put them on the bubble for NCAA qualifying.
In the absence of A&M’s Jaele Patrick, Texas’ Maren Taylor became the class of this meet in diving. She showed this with a score of 344.80 to take the 3-meter title: the first women’s diving event of the meet. But this honor didn’t come without a battle, as Missouri’s super-freshman diver Loren Figueroa finished close behind with a score of 34.40. Texas A&M’s Janie Potvin was also in the mix with a score of 335.10.
Missouri took the most points in this event, but for Texas this was a big “win” over the Aggies in team scoring.
500 yard freestyle
This year’s Texas A&M freshman class didn’t get much national respect. Most of the hype was, deservedly so, about the classes at Stanford, Florida, and Texas. And while those classes have all had high-impact seasons, the Aggie rookies deserve to be in the conversation as well. They proved this with a 1-2 finish in their first shot at a Big 12 individual event. Cammile Adams, who was a member of the 2009 US World Champion squad in the 200 fly, has recovered spectacularly from some early-season shoulder troubles, and took her first Big 12 title in 4:39.14. This is a Big 12 Championship Record for the freshman. Her classmate Sarah Henry finishes second in 4:41.05. This is an extremely encouraging result from two swimmers who don’t consider this their primary event.
The Aggies finished had 5 of the top 6 finishers in this race, with only Texas’ Natalie Sacco in third (4:46.03) able to break them up.
200 yard IM
Texas’ Karlee Bispo has looked fantastic early this meet, and the freestyle specialist was no different in her 200 IM winning time of 1:55.15. We knew that she would be a national force this year in the 200 freestyle, based on some very fast performances at last year’s USA-Swimming Nationals, but this 200 IM may have become her best event. This time is an NCAA automatic qualifying time and also breaks the Big 12 Championship Meet Record that was set in 2009 by Kathleen Hersey.
Bispo and A&M’s Lindsay King were fairly even through the first two legs, after King made a big move in her specialty the backstroke, but Bispo showed the kind of versatility that makes a great IM’er when she put the field in her rear-view mirror on the breaststroke with a great split of 33.63. With a big (1.4 second) lead headed toward the freestyle, there was no chance that anyone was going to come close to her. King finished second in 1:57.24: a career best by 3 seconds.
The two best breaststrokers in the field, who usually make the best IM’ers, also finished very well in this race. Texas sophomore Laura Sogar was third in 1:58.23 and A&M freshman Erica Dittmer was 4th in 1:58.34.
50 yard freestyle
Tonight’s 50 freestyle boiled down to an ultimate battle and lunge for the finish, just like every excellent 50 freestyle race should. Texas’ Kelsey Amundsen won the race in 22.50, and was able to just barely hold on ahead of Texas A&M duo Liliana Ibanez and Maria Sommer, who tied at 22.52. The Aggies have been searching for the sprinter that would become their next great relay-anchor next season after Sommer, who has held down that spot for some time, graduates. It appears that Ibanez, holder of many Mexican National Records, has stepped up at this meet and proven she’s ready to step into that role.
Not far behind them was another Longhorn, Bethany Adams, in 22.54. With the top four finishers separated by only .04 seconds, this race was truly sprint freestyle at its finest.
This meet held mostly to expectations through the first 8 events of the week. On day 2, Texas got scoring-wins in the 50 freestyle and diving, while Texas A&M crushed the 500 free. The difference-maker thus far has been the surprising depth of A&M in the 200 IM, where despite Bispo’s impressive win, A&M took 5 of the A-final spots.
The Aggies have jumped out to a moderate lead, but they have used 15 scoring events in swimming events as compared to Texas’ 11. In a conference as shallow as the Big 12, these roster spots are more important to keep an eye on than in a conference like the Pac-10 or SEC, where a team’s 16th athlete would be lucky to score 4 or 5 points. In the Big 12, A&M and Texas are safe to expect at least 5 or 6 points from each race swum by every roster member. Unless they change strategy, however, Texas appears as though they’ll use two diving roster spots compared to A&M’s 1.
1. Texas A&M Aggies 336
2. Texas Longhorns 301.5
3. Missouri Tigers 212.5
4. Nebraska 128
5. Kansas 122
6. Iowa State 89