In July, most of the country’s top college teams will begin rolling out their 2011-2012 swimming schedules. The first three of these were released this week when the Michigan Men and both Arizona squads released their meet lineups.
There weren’t a whole lot of new surprises on either list. Michigan’s schedule is nearly an exact mirror of last year’s with one glaring exception. Instead of traveling to US Short Course Nationals the first weekend of December (which will actually be long course this year in preparation for the Olympics), Mike Bottom and his Wolverines will head to Iowa City for the Hawkeye Invitational.
Last year, this was a minor meet full of quality mid-major teams and low-level BCS teams. This year, however, with Iowa City as the host of Big Ten’s, there is likely to be a few more Big Ten teams knocking their door to get in on this invite.
Other meets that dot the Wolverine’s lineup include their annual tri-meet with last year’s No. 2 team Texas and No. 18 Indiana, which will rotate to Ann Arbor this year. They will also hold to tradition and travel to South Florida for their winter-training trip, which will culminate with the annual Orange Bowl Classic meet.
The spring season will be capped by their Big Ten quad (this year, they’re grouped with Northwestern, Penn State, and arch-rivals Ohio State), the Ohio State Invite, and then NCAA’s in Federal Way, Washington.
As for Arizona, coach Eric Hansen’s schedule was likely mostly set prior to his taking over the program a few months ago. As usual, Arizona will get a very late start on their 2012 season, with their first meet coming the second weekend of October against UNLV and Arizona State for the men and Arizona State and Kansas for the women.
Shortly thereafter will be a bit of a highlight meet for the season, as Arizona will welcome Hansen’s former squad, the Wisconsin Badgers, to the desert for a dual meet. Next up will be the dual meets against USC, which in a swap from last year will probably be a slightly bigger meet for the men than it is for the women.
Headed into winter training will be the Texas Hall of Fame Invitational in Austin. This will be a big hallmark meet for Hansen, as typically Arizona puts up really great in-season times at that meet. We will begin to get a feel as to how closely Hansen will follow the old Frank Busch formula at that meet in Austin. At the end of January will be the duals against Cal and Stanford, followed by a return-trip for the Texas Longhorns for their annual, full-schedule, two-day dual meet.
The Wildcats end their regular season with another meet against Arizona State; this time in Tempe. The Pac-10 Championships will be in Federal Way, Washington, and for the men will provide a preview of the host site for NCAA’s. The women will travel to Auburn, Alabama for their National Championship meet.
An interesting absence from the schedule is new full-fledged member of the Pac-12: Utah. As a full, card-carrying member of the Pac-12 (unlike, say Cal Poly and UCSB, who are men’s-swimming-only members), it’s a bit surprising that the Pac-12 didn’t try to work more in-conference dual meets to help build the Utah brand as part of the newly-expanded conference.