AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 19. THE University of Texas men's and women's swimming and diving teams both opened the first day of competition at the Big 12 Conference
Championships by posting NCAA automatic qualifying times in each event.
The men's team tallied 80 points to lead Texas A&M (68) and Missouri (64), while the women's 80 points is ahead of Texas A&M (68), Kansas (60) and Iowa State
The fifth-ranked men's team started the evening by posting a Big 12 meet record in the 800-yard freestyle relay with an NCAA automatic qualifying time of 6:22.89. The squad of senior John Suchand (Highland Village, Texas), freshman Aaron Peirsol (Irvine, Calif.), sophomore Rainer Kendrick (Birmingham, Ala.) and senior Chris Kemp (Southlake, Texas) shattered their previous best time this season of 6:34.37, which was posted at the Texas Invitational.
The fourth-ranked women's team immediately followed the men's team in the 800-yard freestyle relay and added an NCAA automatic qualifying mark of 7:12.92. With all four of its swimmers owning times of 1:50.87 or faster in the 200-yard freestyle, the Texas relay of senior All-Americans Tanica Jamison (Dublin, Calif.) and Joscelin Yeo (Republic of Singapore), freshman Kristy Siminski (Portage, Ind.) and junior Jenna Bridges (Tallahassee, Fla.) were easily able to eclipse the previous team high for this season of
Yeo, the 2002 Big 12 Swimmer of the Meet, has now won all nine events she has competed in at the Big 12 Conference Championships dating back to last year. She will aim for her 10th title in as many tries when she
competes in the 200-yard individual medley on Thursday.
After capturing the 800-yard freestyle relay, the men's team increased its lead by posting the top time in the 200-yard medley relay at 1:26.72. Sophomore Andrew Davidson (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) led off in the backstroke, followed by junior All-American Brendan Hansen (Haverford, Pa.) in the breaststroke, sophomore Daniel DiToro in the butterfly and junior Ian Crocker (Portland, Maine) anchored the squad on the freestyle leg.
Closing out the evening, the women's squad of freshman Elizabeth Wycliffe (Kingston, Ontario), sophomores Kaela Humphries (Chaska, Minn.) and Sarah Wanezek (Brookfield, Wis.) and senior Olympic gold medalist Erin Phenix (Cincinnati, Ohio) combined for an NCAA automatic qualifying mark of 1:39.91. The automatic qualifying time is the seventh of the season for
Wanezek in as many events.
The Big 12 Conference Championships will continue at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swim Center from Feb. 20-22. Preliminaries will be at held at 10:30 a.m. and the finals are slated to start at 6:30 p.m.