College Swimming Previews: New sprint influx looks to keep #9 Texas inside the top 10

Key Additions

  • Sydney Couch (Diving, Indiana)
  • Sammie Hashbarger (Texas)
  • Bethany Leap (Florida)
  • Rebecca Millard (California)
  • Mimi Schneider (Illinois)
  • Sam Sutton (Texas)

 Key Losses

  • Samantha Tucker (Relays, Free)
  • Ellen Lobb (Relays, Free, Fly)
  • Lily Moldenhauer (Relay, Fly, Back, Free)
  • Victoria Cassidy (IM)
  • Alex Hooper (Relay, Free, Back)
  • Maren Taylor (Diving, two silvers at 2014 NCAA Championships)

The University of Texas Longhorns women’s team lost some of their top swimmers and added a few good pickups in their freshman 2014-2015 class.

The Texas women settled for ninth at last year’s NCAA Championships finishing within the same range as multiple other teams leaving their placement this year to most likely remain in that range.

INCOMING FRESHMAN

Their biggest pickup happened to be Mimi Schneider out of Oak Park, Illinois. Schneider is an all around sprinter excelling in the freestyles and butterflies. At Nationals this summer, Schneider was able to finish eighth overall in the 50 fly with a 26.98 finish despite being slightly faster in the prelims with a 26.82.

Schneider’s 100m freestyle was fairly impressive as well as she clocked in at 56.05 to finish 22cnd overall in finals.

Sprinters like Schneider will be key to the continued development of the current Texas program as down the road they’ll be key factors on the Longhorn relays.

Texas lost Samantha Tucker who’s been a huge staple on the Texas relays over the years. With the addition of Schneider the loss might not be as dreadful as one might have otherwise thought.

Schneider not only boasts some fairly impressive long course times, but has had some great success in short course yards. Her 50 yard freestyle is a 22.66, her 100 free a 49.81, her 50 fly a 24.21, and her 100 fly a 53.62.

Those times as they stand now won’t likely make A or B finals at the NCAA Championships, but are in the range where they are close to the cutoff point. With some improvement this season Schneider could very well gain points for Texas in three or more events.

The top Texas swimmer in the 50 free last year, Ellen Lobb who graduated, finished 15th overall at NCAA’s with a time of 22.35. With the known success of the sprinting programs at Texas, you can expect some improvement from Schneider, which might generate a performance that will generate points in the B final.

Down the road from now Schneider could be a serious A-final contender in her junior and senior years.

Another great pickup was Bethany Leap. Leap, a breaststroker, would have come in 16th overall last year in the 200 yard breaststroke at NCAA’s with her personal best yards time of 2:11.35. Already at a young age she has potential to make a few consolation finals in the breaststroke events.

Texas’ best breaststroker at the moment is Gretchen Jaques , who finished 14th in the 100 breaststroke with a 59.81. Leap’s personal best is a 1:02.23. She’ll need to drop closer to the 1:00 or 59 range if she wants to make a consolation final, and even faster for an A-final. Considering that it’s Jaques’ senior year however, the Texas team will be in need of a breaststroker and Leap, with a little development, might just be the swimmer to fill those shoes.

Another pickup that might come in handy down the road is Rebecca Millard. Millard isn’t extremely competitive on the NCAA scene with her current times, but come junior or senior year she’ll most likely hold a spot on the 200 and 400 freestyle relays as two of her best events are the 50 and 100 freestyles. She goes a 23.04 in the 50 and a 50.15 in the 100 in yards.

ONES TO LOOK FOR

All-in-all, at the 2013 NCAA’s Texas didn’t have too many stars that stood out in what might be some of the best years of female college swimming that we’ve seen in a long time.

Their top placing swimmer was Gretchen Jaques in that 100 breast, a 14th place finish. Their relays were all within the lower end of the scale as well in the finals, placing between 9th and 13th on average.

One glaring absence last season was Sarah Denninghoff, who is returning to Texas for her returning senior year after redshirting and sitting out last season. Denninghoff is one of the most-decorated collegiate swimmers on the Longhorns women’s roster.

Her best events are the two backstrokes and she’s a serious contender to make the finals in both the 100 and 200 at these upcoming championships. Her personal bests would have come in 7th last year in both events.

Denninghoff will also bring back some hope to the Texas relays. She’s a solid 50, 100 and 200 freestyler. Her personal bests in the 50 and 100 frees would have been just off the top 16 cutoff from last year, but would undoubtedly help improve the relays.

Her 1:45.63 in the 200 yard freestyle would have warranted her a 16th place finish.

Madisyn Cox will be going into her sophomore year, and with that she’s bringing with her the experience of making a consolation final at last year’s championships in the 200 IM.

There’s no doubt that Cox will want to get another second swim, this time at the 2015 NCAA Championships, but this year she could get that second swim in more than one event.

Cox has been fast in both IM’s, both breaststrokes, and if she knocks off a few seconds in her 500 freestyle could also get a second swim in that event. Cox is an all around swimmer who’s year-by-year development could very well be a key to Texas’ success.

Emma Ivory-Ganja contributed greatly at last year’s NCAA Championships with a second place finish in the Platform event. Going into her senior year she’ll be a great asset to the team and her experience will be great in inspiring young freshman diver Sydney Couch.

 OVERVIEW

 The Texas team isn’t going to have any drastic improvements or fall too far below the mark they set last year. Based on their recruiting class, Texas is definitely working its way into rebuilding itself.

With roughly 1/3 of the team leaving after this season, the fate of the team will be in the hands of some of the younger swimmers. Texas has done a smart job picking swimmers who will not only be successful in individual events, but will contribute well to the relays.

Most of the swimmers picked have experience in the sprints, and can all throw down at least a decent 50 and 100 yard freestyle. Texas didn’t recruit any swimmers that primarily focused on the distance, but rather focused on sprinters.

With the addition of many sprinters it will allow for some great practice training groups, which will aid in the development of the young swimmers, and will generate better relay performances. With relay performances granting teams more points than individual wins, that’s very important to a program that will be rebuilding their team over the next few years.

The coaching staff will have decisions to make as to whom they put on the relays this year. They have multiple options, which might include some of the younger swimmers depending on how much improvement they can show in the course of the season.

All in all, the Longhorn women should finish around the same placement as they did last year. There are a clump of schools in that category so the freshman swimmers’ performances on the relays along with the return of Sarah Denninghoff could be the difference that Texas needs to inch a little closer to schools such as Tennessee and Florida.

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Texas is doing a great job of rebuilding slowly. Really tough when they had such a strong recruiting class in ’09? with Riefenstahl, Gingrich, Bispo, Hersey, etc. Haven’t had as many high ranked recruits since then. I hope with having Capitani there, that they are able to pull in some top recruits and bring the program back to life. They have all of the resources, and it seems like the alumni stay involved even after graduating. Hoping for good seasons to come for the Longhorns.

weirdo

the athletic department fired the last two coaches for not being in top 5 ….they don’t mess around and there is a lot of pressure to be top 3 or top 5…..the men do it there and the women used to be top 3 every year…..

Bill

When were the women top 3 every year?

JW

They won from 84-88, 2nd in 89, won again in 90 and 91, 2nd again in 92 and 94. I’m sure there were also a few third places in there in the 80s and 90s.

loveSwimmin

3rd place in 1983

About Mitch Bowmile

Mitch Bowmile

Mitch Bowmile is a former Canadian age group swimmer who was forced to end his career early due to a labrum tear in his hip and a torn rotator cuff after being recognized as one of the top 50 breaststrokers his age in Canada. He competed successfully at both age …

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