After 2 days at the 2018 Phill Hansel Invitational at the University of Houston, the host women hold a 500+ point lead over 2nd-place Nevada.
That lead has come with a number of highlights for the host Cougars, including 9 NCAA “B” cuts on Saturday alone, but the biggest moment so far came when sophomore Katie Higgins finished 2nd in the 100 fly in 53.83 (behind Nevada’s Andressa Cholodovskis Lima – 53.33).
Why is a runner-up finish a highlight in a meet where the Cougars have won plenty of events? Besides undercutting Higgins’ previous lifetime best of 54.27, it broke a 40-year old school record, clearing the 54.11 done by Diane Johannigman done on April 5th, 1978. Johannigman was coached by the legendary Hansel: the namesake for this weekend’s meet, and at the time that swim was a new American Record, breaking Nancy Hogshead-Makar’s mark done a year earlier. It stood for another year until another Texan, Longhorn Jill Sterkel, broke it twice in 1979, landing at 53.76.
Over the next few years, Sterkel and Mary T. Meagher would muscle the record down by almost another second, culminating with Sterkel’s 52.99 in 1981 that was the first-ever sub-53 second swim.
That 54.11 swim by Johannigman is the oldest in the Houston record book, though maybe not by as much as you’d think – exactly 5 years after, Ingrid Lawrence swam a 22.71 on March 17th, 1983 that is now the oldest Cougar record.
Aside from a few outliers, most of the Cougars’ school records have been set in the last season-plus. 14 out of 19 school swimming records have been set in 2017 and 2018.