Originally posted on Kansan.com on March 2nd, 2014. Printed in Kansan on March 3rd, 2014.
This weekend was one for the record books. From the 800-yard free relay to sophomore Chelsie Miller’s performances, to senior Alison Lusk’s swim in the 200-yard breaststroke, to the team’s performance overall, the Kansas swimmers rewrote Jayhawk swimming history.
The team of senior Morgan Sharp, sophomore Haley Molden, Miller and freshman Allison Merecka smashed the five-year-old University all-time record of 7:13.86 when they clocked in at 7:11.99. The team finished in second place, beating Iowa State, the third place finisher by seven seconds (7:18.24).
“We achieved our goals…in the 800 free relay,” said coach Clark Campbell.
After the first day of competition, the Jayhawks were sitting in second place.
In the second day of the championships, Miller shattered the seven-year-old University all-time record in the 200-yard individual medley relay (2:00.21) in the prelims, touching the wall with a time of 1:58.98. Miller swam slightly slower in the finals (1:59.25) finishing third.
“Chelsie’s race was well put together,” Campbell said. “Every stroke within that race was strong. She struggles more with the 200 IM than the 400 IM, so for her to swim that time was impressive. She will now also be able to swim that race again at nationals, in addition to the 400 IM. I’m proud of her new-best time and new school record.”
The meet only got better for the Jayhawks. On the third day of competition, Miller gave Kansas something it had been waiting for since 1999: its first individual conference champion. Not only did she win the conference in the 400-yard IM, she bested her time from last year by seven seconds and broke another school record.
“It was a big night for Chelsie and for KU swimming,” said Campbell. “Her time was faster than what she swam at U.S. Nationals, which will just improve her seed for the NCAA Championships. She swam an awesome race and kicked off a really good night for us, probably one of the best nights we have had at the Big 12 Championships in recent history.”
As the day concluded, six different swimmers chalked up seven different place finishes, adding points to the Jayhawk total. Kansas recorded at least two top-eight finishes in every individual swimming event on the third day of competition.
“Tonight was the most scoring swims we have ever had in a session at the Big 12 Championships,” Campbell said. “You get the opportunity to do that by swimming very well in the morning. We had a really good morning swim and got a bunch of lanes for finals and put a lot of points on the board.”
With the solid performances by the Jayhawks through the meet, Kansas was sitting in second place, only behind Texas with one day of competition to go.
The final day of competition brought another record breaking performance from the Jayhawks, this time from Lusk. She set the school’s all-time record in the 200-yard breaststroke earlier in the season, but re-broke it with a fourth place finish in the event. Lusk wasn’t the only one walking away with an award.
Both Miller and Campbell received meet honors. Miller was presented with Swimmer of the Meet and Campbell was voted Coach of the Meet. The team had a reason to celebrate, as well. With the swims from everyone on the team, Kansas clinched second place.
“I’m happy for our whole team, especially the seniors and returners, because we started the process of setting and achieving this goal a year ago,” said Campbell. “It sets the bar higher. We want to keep going the direction we are going. A lot of this is more than just competitive excellence. We wanted to change the culture of the program and we are on the way to doing that. Now we can say we are a top-two team in a major conference.”
Next up for the Jayhawks are the NCAA Championships that takes place March 20 through 22 in Minneapolis, Minn.