The TCU swimming and diving team looks to put a stamp on a solid first season in the Mountain West Conference when the it travels to Oklahoma City today for the conference championships.The MWC has shown more depth and dedication regarding its swimming programs than TCU’s previous conference, Conference USA, forcing the Horned Frogs to be in top form at every meet. The new conference also provides a chance for the men’s team to compete in a championship meet, an opportunity it was denied in C-USA as the end-of-season meet was considered an invitational, head coach Richard Sybesma said.
“There’s more teams and more commitment to swimming, (which means) better athletes,” Sybesma said. “Also, we’ve got a commitment from the conference to sponsor a championship meet for both men and women.”
Junior swimmer Keleigh Wentworth said she thinks the challenge of stronger competition motivated the team to work especially hard during its practices at the beginning of the school year.
“Back in August and September, before our season really started, we were working really hard and doing a lot of stuff that other teams probably hadn’t been thinking about,” Wentworth said. “We carried that through our training.”
The team has been tapering for about three weeks in order to execute its best performances at the championship meet, which lasts through Saturday. Tapering involves splitting into groups based on stroke type and swim distance, Sybesma said.
“We want to peak to the point where everybody’s ready to blast off,” Sybesma said.
Wentworth said tapered practices maintain the same intensity as a normal practice, but focus on the swimmers speed and feeling for the water and include longer rest breaks.
Senior swimmer Aran Bean said the men’s squad is looking forward to doing well at the conference meet where depth does not play as large of a role in success.
“When we go to dual meets, if you’ve got a bit more depth than people, are a bit stronger in each event, obviously you would score better,” Bean said. “At the conference meet, it still helps to have depth, but it’s not quite as important because (the meet) is more spread out over a lot more events.”
Diving has also been a significant contributor to the Frogs’ victories this season. Senior men’s diver Kelly McCain and senior women’s diver Kelly Seely are currently in the top three in their respective events. Freshman RJ Hesselberg is also expected to help the men’s squad, Sybesma said.
Sybesma said the H2O Frogs are a very well-rounded team that capitalizes on its strengths in both individual events and relays. That advantage is what will help the Frogs contest for the championship.
“It’s just a matter of everybody swimming up to their ability,” Sybesma said. We have a chance to really challenge.