2022 Women’s Big 12 Fan Guide: Texas Set for 10th-Straight Conference Title

2022 BIG 12 SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

The University of Texas women won their 9th-straight Big 12 title last year, continuing their undefeated streak since Texas A&M left the conference following the 2011-2012 season. The Longhorns won all but one event at last year’s championships. It was Kansas’ Manon Manning, who has since graduated, who stopped Texas from sweeping the meet by winning the 200 backstroke.

Additionally, Texas returns all of their individual Big 12 champions from last year, and all but one member of their winning relays from last year. Miranda Heckman, who was a Longhorn freshman last season, but has since left the program, was a member of the winning 400 free relay, and is the only reigning champion Longhorn not returning this year.

Behind Texas last year was Kansas, who have finished 2nd 3 years in a row. TCU, West Virginia, and Iowa State finished the meet just 6 points apart, marking a highly competitive meet.

Last year’s team scores:

  1. Texas – 1055
  2. Kansas – 649
  3. TCU – 528
  4. West Virginia – 526
  5. Iowa State – 522

SCHEDULE

Wednesday – 2/23

  • Men’s 1-Meter Diving
  • 200 Medley Relay
  • 800 Free Relay

Thursday – 2/24

  • 500 Free
  • 200 IM
  • 50 Free
  • Women’s 1-Meter Diving
  • 400 Medley Relay

Friday – 2/25

  • Women’s 3-Meter Diving
  • 100 Fly
  • 400 IM
  • 200 Free
  • 100 Breast
  • 100 Back
  • Men’s 3-Meter Diving
  • 200 Free Relay

Saturday – 2/26

  • Men’s Platform Diving
  • 200 Back
  • 100 Free
  • 1650 Free
  • 200 Breast
  • 200 Fly
  • Women’s Platform Diving
  • 400 Free Relay

STARS

Iowa State – Emily Haan (senior backstroker), Lucia Rizzo (senior butterflier), Lehr Thorson (5th year breaststroker), Martha Haas (5th year breaststroker), Ashley Bengtson (sophomore freestyler) – Iowa State returns its core group of swimmers from last year’s championships. Emily Haan was an A finalist 100 backstroker last year, while Lucia Rizzo made her way into the championship final in both the 200 IM and 200 fly. Lehr Thorson and Martha Haas were both A finalists in both breaststroke events last year, and return to action this year. Ashley Bengtson was a B finalist in both the 100 and 200 free last year, but has already bettered her times from last season this year.

Kansas – Dannie Dilsaver (senior IMer/breaststroker), Claudia Dougan (sophomore sprinter), Dewi Blose (senior backstroker/sprinter) Jiayu Chen (junior diver), Kate Steward (senior breaststroker)Jiayu Chen is one of the premier divers in the Big 12. Chen did not compete last season, but in 2020 she was the Big 12 champion in 3-metere diving. Dewi Blose is an A finals contender in both backstroke events. Kate Steward won the 100 and 200 breast title in 2020, and was the 200 breast champion in 2019 as a freshman. Although Texas’ Anna Elendt has raised the bar for breaststroke in the conference, Steward is still one of the best breaststrokers in the conference. Sophomore Claudia Dougan is looking to score significant points in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyles.

TCU – Mary Jania (sophomore breaststroker/IMer), Olivia Rhodes (freshman sprinter), Megan Morris (senior IMer/butterflier), Emma Hultquist (junior freestyler) – Freshman Olivia Rhodes is the only non-Texas swimmer to have gone under 23 seconds in the 50 free this season, and as such, she’s a strong contender for the A final. TCU also has 4 swimmers ranked in the top 16 in the 100 free in the conference this year, including Rhodes and Emma Hultquist. Hultquist is also seeded to make the A final in the 200 free.

Texas – Olivia Bray (sophomore butterflier/backstroker), Evie Pfeifer (S5th year IM’er/distance freestyler), Emma Sticklen (sophomore sprinter/flyer), Anna Elendt (sophomore breaststroker), Kelly Pash (junior butterflier/IM’er), Erica Sullivan (freshman distance freestyler), Julia Cook (junior sprint freestyler/backstroker) – Texas has a star-studded roster, and it covers every event, including diving. Speaking of diving Texas returns both Paola Pineda and Bridget O’Neil who won Big 12 titles last year. We also get to see Olympic Silver medalist miler Erica Sullivan make her championship debut for the Longhorns. Olivia Bray, Kelly Pash, and Emma Sticklen make up one of the best fly groups in the NCAA this year, and if they all race their primary events this week, the fly events should be exciting.

West Virginia – Ana Zortea (5th year sprinter/backstroker), Abby Reardon (sophomore freestyler), Emily Knorr (freshman distance freestyler)Ana Zortea is going to be a top Mountaineer performer, and critical on relays. She could find her way into A finals in the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 back. Abby Reardon looks primed for A finals appearances in both the 200 free and 500 free. Freshman Emily Knorr is the #5 miler in the conference this year, and could post one of West Virginia’s top finishes of the meet. Both Reardon and Knorr are ranked highly within the conference in the 200 back as well, and if they both swim it, they could be A finalists.

SHOWDOWNS

50 FREE

While it looks like this will be a race between Texas teammates, there’s more than a handful of swimmers who could legitimately win the 50 free title. Texas has the 7-fastest 50 freestylers in the conference this season: Emma Sticklen, Kelly Pash, Bridget Semenuk, Kyla Leibel, Olivia Bray, Julia Cook, and Grace Cooper. It may end up coming down to who races it.

TCU freshman Olivia Rhodes has been 22.88 already this season, making her 8th in the conference, and giving her an outside shot at the title.

500/1650 FREE

Assuming they both swim the 500 and mile, Texas’ Evie Pfeifer will have some competition in the distance events this year. That competition is none other than freshman teammate Erica Sullivan, who won the Silver medal in the women’s 1500 freestyle at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last summer. While both women are certainly targeting NCAAs as their peak meet, this week could still feature some exciting races between two of the top distance swimmers the NCAA has to offer.

200 FLY

Texas has the best 200 fly group in the NCAA, and is already this season the first team ever to have 3 different swimmers go 1:53 or faster in the event in a single season. Olivia Bray is the defending Big 12 champion, and went on to finish 2nd at NCAAs last year. Kelly Pash and Emma Sticklen were also NCAA A finalists in the event last year. If all 3 girls race the event this week (which there’s no guarantee they will), it will be one of the most thrilling races of the meet.

200 FREE

If Kelly Pash races the 200 free, she’ll almost certainly win. However, if Pash, an incredibly versatile swimmer, ends up racing another event this week, the field will open up considerably. In that scenario, the opportunity for a non-Texas swimmer to win would greatly increase. TCU junior Emma Hultquist and West Virginia’s Abby Reardon have both been 1:48 this season and would have a shot at the title.

SELECTIONS

SWIMULATOR TEAM PROJECTIONS

NOTE – this does not include diving, and Swimulator works as an approximation and projection based on 2021-2022 season bests. Not every team tapers the same way, injuries/illnesses come up, and projections are merely projections. 

Texas 1014
Kansas 571.5
TCU 490.5
West Virginia 380.5
Iowa State 375.5

The Swimulator shows Texas nearly lapping the field, and that’s without diving. Considering Texas has one of the top diving programs in the NCAA currently, it’s safe to say Texas is overwhelmingly likely to win their 9th-straight Big 12 title.

SWIMSWAM PICKS

  1. Texas
  2. Kansas
  3. TCU
  4. West Virginia
  5. Iowa State

Naturally, Texas is our pick for #1. This year, we’re actually going to just stick with the Swimulator for the rest of the standings. Kansas looks to have the next deepest roster in the conference, and considering they have a solid diving squad, they seem like a good pick for #2.

TCU is steadily improving year over year, and it’s plausible they’re able to overtake the Jayhawks, but time will tell. With TCU, West Virginia, and Iowa State finishing just 6 points apart from each other last year, it’s hard to predict who comes out on top this year. We’ll stick with the Swimulator on this one, but the battle for 3rd will assuredly be hard-fought.

In This Story

4
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of

4 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Braque
9 months ago

This is an interesting event in the sense that, barring some weird calamity like the UT bus breaking down on the way to the meet, or all UT swimmers getting covid and not being able to compete, there is literally 100 percent certainty that UT will win the championship. Like you could bet a billion dollars against a penny and be perfectly content. I’m sure UT will be much happier, and its recruiting will benefit, when it goes to the SEC. Nothing against the other teams but there is literally no contest here.

Swammer2009
Reply to  Braque
9 months ago

What about the opportunity for swimmers to get the opportunity to come together as a team to race, compete, and see where they’re at in the season? And for those who won’t qualify for NCAAs, this is those swimmer’s big championship meet. Big 12s is fun!

The Texas men’s/women’s teams don’t seem to have a problem with recruiting, either…

Team Regan
9 months ago

Why no comments?

Elle
9 months ago

Olivia McMurray (FR) also has some pretty intriguing times. 1:47/4:43/9:39/16:12 in SC, and a powerful 2:00/4:13/8:35/16:35 in LC free. She’s gone PB’s in both the 500 and 400 IM this season, and should get the NCAA invite in events ranging from the 200 to the 1650.