Kansas Swimming Opens Season With Crimson-Blue Intrasquad

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Photo Courtesy: Kansas Athletics

Kansas swimming and diving’s Blue Team used a combination of great preparation and perhaps a little luck to topple the Crimson Team, 59-35, in KU’s annual intrasquad meet inside Robinson Natatorium Friday afternoon. Blue co-captain Laura Bilsborrow and Haley Molden outlined a five-minute draft strategy prior to the start of competition and freshman Haley Bishop turned out to be the sleeper pick as she bolted to a pair of individual wins.

An expedited meet – lasting less than 45 minutes – yielded the expected results and some unexpected flashes as many Jayhawks swam competitively for the first time in nearly two months. Kansas’ top flight returners -Molden (2), Chelsie Miller (2), Yulya Kuchkarova and Bryce Hinde – won six of the eight individual swimming events with Bishop impressing in her competitive debut. In the end, a pair of event win streaks by the Blue Team proved too much for the Crimson squad to overcome, but the entire team performed at a high level.

“We’re not quite sharp yet,” said Kansas head coach Clark Campbell, who served as a meet official while his captains selected and coached their respective units. “Yesterday they were absolutely brutalized in practice, some of them really responded and had an awesome meet. This is probably the furthest along we’ve been for an intrasquad meet, which was really good to see. I’m really happy with what I saw, but this just a fraction of what our team can be. It was a fun way to start.”

To open the meet, the Blue Team out-touched Crimson to win the 200-yard medley relay before Molden led wire-to-wire in the 200-yard freestyle, ahead of a pair of Crimson swimmers, to add five points to the team total.

Chelsie Miller momentarily stopped the Blue streak with a win for Crimson in the 200-yard individual medley, but the Blue Team won four events in a row while building a commanding lead. Bishop claimed back-to-back wins in the pool, wrapping top swims in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly around teammate Graylyn Jones’ win on the one-meter diving board.

Molden claimed her second win in the 100-yard freestyle as the Blue team swept the top three spots, then Miller again stopped the run while coasting to victory in the 500-yard freestyle.
Blue team member Yulya Kuchkarova paced the field in the 100-yard backstroke as the squad swept the top three positions, then Crimson struck back when Bryce Hinde led a trio of swimmers at the top of the order in the 100-yard breaststroke.

With the result already determined, the Blue Team’s A relay out-touched Crimson in the 200-yard freestyle relay to add an exclamation point to the win.

“We all did so well, our team really feeds off of each other,” Molden said. “Whenever we get to do something that’s not practice we like to have a lot of fun with it. I expected for all of us to do as well as we did today.”

Both squads had nice contributions from the freshman class, with Breonna Barker challenging for most of the race in the 200 free and a second-place finish by Libby Walker in the 500 free, but the top rookie was Bishop.

“I had no idea what to expect coming into the meet,” Bishop said. “September was all about adapting and change for me so honestly I think today showed me change really is a good thing.”

Kansas returns to the pool as a united team and in official competition when the Jayhawks host Missouri State and Denver for a double dual at Robinson Natatorium Oct. 23-24. Kansas will honor its four-person senior class during the first day of the event and will wear pink caps along with other festivities in recognition of a Jayhawks for a Cure swim on Saturday. All meets are free and open to the public, but donations to Jayhawks for a Cure, supporting Lawrence Memorial Hospital and the KU Cancer Center are encouraged Saturday.

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