Competitor Coach of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition. As with any item of recognition, Competitor Coach of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one coach whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a coach who was clearly in the limelight, or one whose work fell through the cracks a bit more among other stories. If your favorite coach wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
It’s not so surprising that the Texas men lead the NCAA in A cuts through December. It might be much more surprising that the Texas women are as well.
Coach Carol Capitani has four Longhorn women already locked into NCAA invites. But maybe most impressive is that half of those ‘A’ cut bids are freshmen who have gotten up to speed very quickly in a strange, pandemic-restricted fall season.
German Anna Elendt currently leads the NCAA in the 100 breast (58.06) and 200 breast (2:06.04). Those times are much better than even the most optimistic conversions of Elendt’s long course times would have suggested. Coming in as a freshman, Elendt had been 1:07.50 in the 100-long-course-meter breast (converting to roughly 59.0 in yards) and 2:29.72 in the 200-long-course-meter breast (converting roughly to 2:11.27).
Fellow freshman Olivia Bray sits #2 nationally in the 100-yard fly at 50.37. That’s just two tenths of a second off of her career-best time. And Bray has already set personal bests in the 200 fly (1:52.85), 50 free (22.13) and 100 back (51.04) this college season.
Bray and sophomore Kelly Pash sit 1-2 in the nation in the 200 fly, with both hitting A cuts – Bray at 1:52.85 and Pash at a lifetime-best 1:53.18. Meanwhile senior Evie Pfeifer also booked an NCAA invite with a 4:35.73 in the 500 free – that’s also a lifetime-best.
The Texas women have two more swimmers under last year’s NCAA invite times: junior Julia Cook and freshman Emma Sticklen. Cook went a lifetime-best 51.14 in the 100 back and 1:52.40 in the 200 back. Sticklen was 51.49 in the 100 fly and 1:54.43 in the 200 fly, both lifetime-bests in the first four months of her collegiate career.
The Longhorn’s have all five relays qualified for NCAAs already, led by a #1-ranked 400 medley relay. Cook, Elendt, Bray, and Pash went 3:26.86 – a time faster than any team in the nation went in the entirety of last season – though, of course, that didn’t include the NCAA meet, which was canceled amid the pandemic. For further reference, 3:26.86 would have placed second at the 2019 NCAA meet behind only Cal.
Texas also hit an automatic qualifying time in the 200 medley relay, and holds provisional standards in the other three relays.
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