Swimming & Diving Travels To Atlanta For C-USA Championships
Mid-Year Additions Provide Boost To Mean Green In First Semester Of Action
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The North Texas swimming and diving team heads to the Conference USA Championships in Atlanta this week, coming off two of their best performances under third-year head coach Brendon Bray, blowing past TCU 180-120 on Senior Day and posting two NCAA B time standards in a narrow 132-109 loss to SMU.
The Mean Green boast a trio of sophomores who are tied or hold the fastest time in Conference USA. Claudia Kitching and Caroline Culpepper hold the fastest times in the 200 breaststroke and 200 butterfly, respectively, while Sarah Vaisse is tied for the fastest time in the 100 breaststroke. The team has also been buoyed by the addition of a pair of talented mid-year additions in freshmen Rebekah Bradley and Sara Whlean.
"It's a great thing to have people who are performing well and have good attitude and want to train well," said Bray of Bradley and Whelan. "You like having people like that on the team. It encourages everyone. It helps everyone. When you raise the level of the program, it makes everyone else swim well. It's no different than somebody else swimming really well."
Bradley was named Conference USA Swimmer of the Week for each of the last two weeks of the season, combining with junior diver Samantha Scheck to sweep the season's final Conference USA swimming and diving awards. Bradley posted an NCAA B time standard in both the 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke and also picked up her ninth fist-place finish in four career meets. She also holds the second-fastest time in the league in the 200 backstroke and third-fastest time in the 100 backstroke.
"When I got here, I was pushed straight into training," said Bradley of the midseason start to her career. "I had like three hours sleep on my first night, and Brendon said, `I'll see you in the morning.' And I was like, `OK.' Everyone here was really supportive and they took me to get my phone set-up and all those other things that people usually have to do in August before we left for San Diego."
Whelan, like Bradley, also joined the team in January, competing in her first meet at the San Diego Shootout on Jan. 9. She broke through with her first individual win against SMU, posting a team season-best and career-best time in the 500-yard freestyle. She also took third in the 200 freestyle, becoming the second-fastest North Texas swimmer in the event this season.
"I went into it with a different mindset," said Whelan of the SMU meet. "Instead of trying to prove my worth to everyone on the team, I told myself to do my best. I was more positive and focusing on myself, rather than what other people were thinking. Instead of trying to prove everyone else, I tried to prove to myself that I could do it and I could swim fast."
"It's definitely a challenge for them because they have to catch up in what we're doing," Bray said. "To be as successful as they have been right away, it's really special. It means they have been able to adapt that well and it makes us really excited about the future, when they will be with us for an entire year."
Bradley, along with Kitching, who has posted three NCAA B time standards in the 200 breaststroke this season, will be pushing to post times in their respective events that will send them to the NCAA Championships in March. On the boards, junior Samantha Scheck, the reigning Conference USA Diver of the Week, looks to post a NCAA Zone D Qualifying score, having narrowly missed the cut with a score of 263.92 in the one-meter competition against TCU.
As a team, North Texas finished the dual-meet portion of its season with a 7-4 record and a winning percentage of .636, tied for the second-most dual-meet wins and the second-best winning percentage in school history. The Mean Green look to cap their season with a program-best finish at the Conference USA Championships, having placed fifth each of the last two seasons.
"I don't know what to expect at conference because I have never been there before," Bradley said. "I'm sure it's going to be a completely different environment than the New Zealand swimming nationals than I'm used to. This is very team-oriented, so that will be different. Swimming-wise, I'll try my best and see how it goes."
The four-day meet consists of nine sessions, four preliminary sessions and five finals sessions, beginning with the first finals session on Wednesday night and concluding with the last finals session on Saturday night. See below for the full order of events in Atlanta.
Order of Events (All times CT):
Wednesday (Day 1 Finals, beginning at 5 p.m.):
200-yard Medley Relay -- B Final
200-yard Medley Relay -- Championship Final
800-yard Freestyle Relay -- B Final
800-yard Freestyle Relay -- Championship Final
Thursday (Day 2 Trials, beginning at 9:30 a.m.):
200-yard Individual Medley
3-Meter Diving -- Prelims
Thursday (Day 2 Finals, beginning at 5 p.m.):
500-yard Freestyle -- C Final
500-yard Freestyle -- Consolation Final
500-yard Freestyle -- Championship Final
200-yd Indiv Medley -- C Final
200-yd Indiv Medley -- Consolation Final
200-yd Indiv Medley -- Championship Final
50-yd Freestyle -- C Final
50-yd Freestyle -- Consolation Final
50-yd Freestyle -- Championship Final
3-Meter Diving -- Final
200-yard Freestyle Relay -- B Final
200-yard Freestyle Relay -- Championship Final
Friday (Day 3 Trials, beginning at 9:30 a.m.):
400-yard Individual Medley
1-Meter Diving -- Prelims
Friday (Day 3 Finals, beginning at 5 p.m.):
400-yard Individual Medley -- C Final
400-yard Individual Medley -- Consolation Final
400-yard Individual Medley -- Championship Final
100-yard Butterfly -- C Final
100-yard Butterfly -- Consolation Final
100-yard Butterfly -- Championship Final
200-yard Freestyle -- C Final
200-yard Freestyle -- Consolation Final
200-yard Freestyle -- Championship Final
100-yard Breaststroke -- C Final
100-yard Breaststroke -- Consolation Final
100-yard Breaststroke -- Championship Final
100-yard Backstroke -- C Final
100-yard Backstroke -- Consolation Final
100-yard Backstroke -- Championship Final
1-Meter Diving -- Final
400-yard Medley Relay -- B Final
400-yard Medley Relay -- Championship Final
Saturday (Day 4 Trials, beginning at 9:30 a.m.):
Platform Diving -- Prelims
Saturday (Day 4 Finals, beginning at 5 p.m.):
1650-yard Freestyle -- Final (Last heat timed final)
200-yard Backstroke -- C Final
200-yard Backstroke -- Consolation Final
200-yard Backstroke -- Championship Final
100-yard Freestyle -- C Final
100-yard Freestyle -- Consolation Final
100-yard Freestyle -- Championship Final
200-yard Breaststroke -- C Final
200-yard Breaststroke -- Consolation Final
200-yard Breaststroke -- Championship Final
200-yard Butterfly -- C Final
200-yard Butterfly -- Consolation Final
200-yard Butterfly -- Championship Final
Platform Diving -- Final
400-yard Freestyle Relay -- B Final
400-yard Freestyle Relay -- Championship Final