The Longhorns got a big commitment in the form of Mary “Mimi” Schenider, a very competent all-around sprinter out of Oak Park, Illinois. Schneider boasts short course bests of 22.8/49.7/1:49.6 in her 50-100-200 freestyles, a 25.5/56.0 pair of times in her 50 and 100 backstrokes, and also goes a 24.0/54.0 in her 50/100 butterflies. She also had a very successful long course campaign this past summer, where she was a 25.7/55.7 in the 50/100 LCM freestyles at the 2013 Summer Junior National Championships, and that 100 time gave her the Junior National title. Though she was not listed as one of our top 10 recruits from the Class of 2014, we did include her as an honorable mention, meaning she will be a very valuable addition for Coach Carol Capitani.
The 2012-13 season saw the Longhorns winning the Big 12 Championships by a massive 475 point margin (1,051 points over 2nd place West Virginia who had 576). At NCAA’s, the team scored 186 points largely thanks to then-senior Laura Sogar’s impressive win in the 200 breaststroke and 6th place finish in the 100 breast, and the team finished 9th overall. Though the loss of Sogar will surely hurt the Longhorns this year, they still have a massive senior class led by veterans such as Samantha Tucker, Sarah Denninghoff and Ellen Lobb.
Although the presence of so many leaders on the team will bode well for the Longhorns this year, this also means that Coach Capitani must start investing in the rebuilding of the team following the graduation of so many points scorers from NCAAs. The Longhorns have already seen some of their freshman step up in early season action, as freshmen Tasija Karosas and Madisyn Cox posted phenomenal times in their individual events against Rice University in their season opener. Karosas was a 54.9/1:58.8 in her backstroke events while Cox was a 1:49.8 in her 200 free with a 2:15.0 in her 200 breaststroke and a 2:01.9 in her 200 individual medley. However, Capitani will welcome all the young talent she can get, and this is where youngsters like Mary Schneider will be key. Schneider’s sprint expertise is particularly conducive to a college environment, and her excellent sprint free, backstroke, and butterfly times will help make her a viable option for multiple relays.
In the case of backstroke, the Longhorns will lose a big chunk of points in the form of senior Sarah Denninghoff after her graduation this year. Denninghoff was a 51.86 (10th NCAAs) and 1:53.72 in the 200 backstroke (8th NCAAs) at last year’s championships, and also led off both the 200 medley and 400 medley relays for the Longhorns in times of 24.8 and 51.9 respectively. Though Schneider would need to improve a bit in her 100 to snag the 400 lead-off spot, she may be able to contend for the A medley relay backstroke spot right away.
However, although Mary is a very good backstroker, it is more likely that she will be used for her butterfly and freestyle abilities. Her 24.0 50 butteflly flat-start from the 2013 NCSA Championships makes her an immediate option for the fly leg of the 200 medley relay, where junior Ellen Lobb was only a 23.7 with a relay take-off at last year’s NCAAs. In the 400 Medley Relay, the Longhorns still have junior Gretchen Jaques, who was a 52.6 on the fly leg last year, but Schneider may help Coach Capitani create some alternative line-ups.
Finally, judging from her performances in the 50 and 100 meter freestyles from Junior Nationals, Schneider’s sprint freestyle may be her most promising asset for the Longhorns. Her 50 and 100 times make her an almost surefire weapon both individually and on relays for Texas, and she may emerge as one of the nation’s elite sprint freestylers provided she makes the proper adjustments during her senior year of high school and freshman year of college. Her 55.7 best time in the 100 LCM free converts to roughly a 48.8 in short course yards, and if she can throw down a time even remotely close to that during her senior year at Fenwick High School, that will really bolster her possibilities once she enters college.