With speculation growing for weeks about former National Champion Kathleen Hersey, and her future with the University of Texas women’s team, we may have gotten our answer on Saturday afternoon in Berkeley, California.
What has really gone on has been the subject of much rumor, and it’s hard to be certain about what is true until we get official word out of the Hersey/Longhorn camps. Hersey has been rumored to be considering leaving the Texas women’s team to go pro and continue training with Texas men’s coach Eddie Reese, who led her to the 200 fly National Championship (and Pan-Pac bronze medal) over the summer.
Hersey, and the Longhorns, had a fairly disappointing 2010 NCAA Championship meet, which resulted in a 12th place finish that was much lower than Texas and their coaching staff had hoped for. Hersey herself also seemed to have missed her taper a little, including a 10th in the 100 fly and only a fourth in the 200 fly.
No official announcement has been made, however, and Hersey may be waiting to see final approval of a revised Athlete Partnership Plan before making her decision.
Hersey is still on the Texas roster, and the official Texas Athletics site did not acknowledge the rumors or the issue.
Yesterday (Saturday), the Longhorns headed out to California for a huge early-season dual with Cal, and Kathleen Hersey was absent from the Texas roster. No mention of her absence was listed in either the meet recap or meet preview (where she wasn’t mentioned at all). This is the biggest indicator yet that Hersey might be parting ways with NCAA swimming.
(Update 10/18: I’ve received confirmation from the first personal source that I consider ironclad that Hersey is done swimming for Texas. I can’t name the source, because of his connection to the program, but in my mind, it has now moved from “rumor” status to being a done deal, barring any extreme change in the situation, ala a Hersey injury, Coaching Change, Reese Retires etc. Given the fact that Texas and Hersey have not made the announcement officially, it’s still unclear what this means for Hersey’s future in terms of going pro or transfering, or if this still leaves the door open for her to have a change-of-heart.)
Unfortunately, Hersey’s absence overshadowed a typically great early-season performance for Texas, which beat Cal 156-144.
Some highlights from that meet:
- California won both relays (200 medley, 400 free) by roughly a second.
- The 100 backstroke was a showcase of three of the best young backstrokers in the country: Cal’s Cindy Tran and Deborah Roth, and Texas’ Lily Moldenhauer. Moldenhauer and Tran are the last two national public school record holders, with Tran standing as the current national any-school record holder. This race ended up with Tran on top, in an impressive 54.49 that puts her third in the nation. Moldenhauer was second in 55.09, with Roth third in 55.55.
- Caitlin Leverenz confirmed that she was in for a major collegiate break-through this season after an oustanding long course season. Her 4:16.06 400 IM is the best in the nation this year by 3 seconds, and is an impressive time in such a grueling event for this time of the season.
- Another swimmer carrying over a great summer season is Texas’ Karlee Bispo. She was the B-final Champion at long course nationals, and against Cal put up a 1:46.97 that is the best in the nation so far.
- Cal won 6 out of 13 individual events, and both relays, meaning the swimming scoring was fairly even. The big difference maker for Texas was their divers, who went 1-2-3 on the 3 meter. The lack of divers is the big weakness on the Cal team and could haunt them come March.
- The last team these two teams faced off was to open the 2008-2009 season, also in California. Texas won that meet by a sizable 175-123 margin. Cal went on to win the NCAA Championship that year, while Texas finished 5th.