The Longhorn swimming & diving women got their game back on this season. They finished 5th in the NCAA finals, for their highest finish since 2001. But how they did it was possibly even more remarkable...
Their finishes were highlighted by Karlee Bispo (FR), Kathleen Hersey (FR), Jessica Livingston (SR), Shelby Cullinan (FR), Hee-Jin Chang (SR), Katie Riefenstahl (FR), Leah Gingrich (FR) and Brie Powers (SO).
They were not the only point scorers, but the placing and the points earned by this group of mainly underclassmen was incredible. Bispo finished 2nd in the 100 Free and 5th in the 200 Free. Hersey took 2nd in the 200 Fly, 3rd in the grueling 400 IM, and 2nd in the shorter 200 IM. Livingston dove to 2nd place honors in the platform diving and 4th in the 3 meter springboard competition. Cullinan's 3rd and 6th places joined Livingston in the diving ranks. Chang's best individual finish was the 50 Free, a race sometimes determined by the length of one's fingernails. Teaming the swimmers up served the Longhorns well, too. The 400 Free Relay (Bispo, Chang, Riefenstahl, Hersey) placed 3rd. Gingrich joined the three other freshmen from the 400 on the longer 800 Free Relay for a similar 3rd place finish. The sprint relay (200) saw the quartet of Bispo, Chang, Powers and Riefenstahl take 5th.
The teams ahead of the Longhorns did have a couple of youngsters as well, but were predominantly seniors and juniors. Looking at the youth (and the unnamed other point scorers) returning with at least four top end recruits, the Longhorns are making their move back up towards the top.
Later this week, the men's team takes a legitimate shot at the NCAA title after taking their 30th consecutive conference title a few weeks ago.