Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center

Exercise-science freshman Hannah Lerner, serves as the lifeguard at the Texas Swimming Center. Although the world-class swimmers and divers she watches don’t often need her help, Lerner finds excitement in the job.
Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

Texas swimming center lifeguard Hannah Lerner has never taken an official swimming lesson in her life — but the exercise-science freshman and her co-workers are tasked with protecting the world-class swimmers at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.

Most of the athletes who swim and dive under Lerner’s watchful gaze are part of the 11-time NCAA National Champion Texas men’s swimming and diving team or the nine-time champion women’s team. Professional swimmers and Olympians also use the facility.

Lerner said it’s easy to feel unnecessary on the stand.

“They’re probably like, ‘You can go home,’” Lerner said.

So what do they do?

“At my old pool, it’s mostly kids, so a lot of it is, ‘Hey don’t push them in, stop running, don’t throw rocks at that bees’ nest,’” said lifeguard Liam Lockwood, who is also on the men’s swimming team. “But here at the swim center, all the groups are organized and here to do training.”

Lifeguarding at the TSC is by no means the sexy or exciting job that it is in movies. Guards spend much of their time setting up for meets, moving lane lines, scrubbing deck mats and wiping down appliances.

“Some people call us the pool janitors,” Lerner said.

Lerner, Lockwood and Casey Shomaker, head lifeguard and biochemistry senior,  have never had to save someone from the pool at the TSC. Shomaker says that although they have been fortunate to never have an emergency, there’s always the chance that something could go wrong — especially at practice.

In practice, teams and athletes often do hypoxic, or breath-control, training. The exercise usually requires athletes to limit their breathing during strokes, which can potentially cause athletes to pass out. But the most dangerous culprit is the diving board.

“Off the 10-meter, smacking is equivalent to hitting concrete,” Shomaker said.

Most of the time, it’s not a smack against the water but a smack into the board that sparks a response from the guards.

Lockwood, who tries to avoid the awkward moments when he has to watch over his teammates, remembers being off-duty at a college meet where he heard a deafening bang.

“I was like, ‘Did some sort of machinery explode or something?’” Lockwood said. “I turned around and saw the board was way in the air, and I was like, ‘Oh crap. Somebody hit the board really, really hard.’”

But before Lockwood had even finished turning around, his on duty co-workers had already jumped off their stands to respond.

“It was cool to see them respond so fast,” Lockwood said. “It made me really proud.”

Although active response situations are rare and sitting on a stand watching people swim back and forth can be dull, the lifeguards have their fair share of excitement.

“Michael Phelps was just here a few weeks ago,” Lerner said. “He was standing by the lifeguard stand for a long time, and I was just like this is so cool.”

Men's swimming

Last weekend, sophomore Jack Conger dove into the national spotlight as he set a school record in the 200-yard butterfly. 

Conger’s time of 1:40.34 put him ahead of the previous record holder, freshman teammate Joseph Schooling, and simultaneously earned him the title of NCAA’s fourth best performer ever in the event. 

Conger kept his reaction simple.

“It was really nice,” he said.

Head coach Eddie Reese was more visibly excited.

“It was totally surprising to all of us,” Reese said. “He got out there real strong, and his last three 50’s were 25.9, 25.9, 26 flat.  You just don’t see that in butterfly.”

Conger, usually a backstroke specialist, appreciated being recognized for accomplishments in another field.

“The last few days leading up to the meet, we were really narrowed in on one or two events to focus on, and the 200 fly was that for me,” he said. “It’s not necessarily an off event, but it’s something besides backstroke, which is nice to do to get my mind off of something I enjoy and love doing so much.”

Conger will try to continue his success this weekend as the No. 1 ranked Longhorns face off against TCU at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in their Senior Day contest. 

The last time these two schools faced off was in 2013, when the Longhorns had a decisive 133-88 win in Fort Worth.

Men's tennis

Following their hard fought 4-2 victory against the SMU Mustangs on Saturday, the undefeated Texas men’s tennis team will face two ranked opponents this weekend.

Friday, the No. 62 Washington Huskies are coming to Austin, and Sunday, the Longhorns will face off against the No. 75 Rice Owls at the Weller Indoor Tennis Center. 

The Huskies, the tougher of the two matchups, are currently undefeated with three consecutive shutout victories. Meanwhile, the Owls are recovering from three straight losses, two of which came against unranked opponents Old Dominion and Mississippi State. 

The Longhorns come into the weekend on the back of very strong singles play, especially from senior All-Americans Søren Hess-Olesen and Lloyd Glasspool. Texas boasts one of the most experienced rosters in the Big 12, with five seniors and seven upperclassmen in all.

However, the Longhorns’ toughest test this season will come in Chicago at the ITA National Indoor Championship next weekend. If Texas can win both matches to sweep the weekend, it looks to continue its strong momentum heading into the ITA contest on Feb. 13.

Track and field

Coming off the heels of a strong weekend, Texas’ track and field will split up once again this weekend.

The Longhorns’ distance runners will travel to South Bend, Indiana, for the Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame. The meet, known for attracting some of the top talent in the country, will provide a mid-season test for Texas.

Meanwhile, the rest of Texas’ team will head out west to the New Mexico Collegiate Classic in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

In the sprints, junior and Bowerman hopeful Courtney Okolo will be running her first 400 meters of the year, looking to gear up for the outdoor season.

This weekend also provides junior Kaitlin Petrillose, who joins Okolo on the Bowerman preseason watch list, another stepping stone on her quest to once again gain recognition as the NCAA Indoor Pole Vault champion. The Albuquerque Convention Center, home to the New Mexico Collegiate Classic, has provided four of the top-20 marks for pole vault this season, giving Petrillose an opportunity at setting her season-high mark.

Junior Ryan Crouser, No. 1 shot-putter in the world, also looks to continue his success this weekend coming off a world-leading mark of 20.95 meters (68–9.00) at the UW Invitational. 

Texas currently ranks No. 11 in the country on the men’s side and No. 7 on the women’s.

Women's swimming and diving

No. 6 ranked Texas women’s swimming and diving team will host TCU Friday in its final meet until the Big 12 Championships at the end of the month.

All-American sophomore swimmer Madisyn Cox will look to continue her stellar 2015, coming off a three-win outing in a dual-meet against Arizona and SMU last week. Cox’s accomplishments were enough to claim honors as the Big 12 Conference’s Swimmer of the Week, her first such recognition as a Longhorn.

Senior swimmer Gretchen Jaques expects to continue her success as the nation’s No. 2 swimmer in the 100-yard breaststroke.

In the diving events, platform diving duo senior Emma Ivory-Ganja and sophomore Murphy Bromberg hope to build on their performance from the dual meet last week, where they placed first and second, respectively.

Today’s home meet will serve as Senior Day for Texas, and the Longhorns will honor eight graduating seniors. 

The meet begins at 4 p.m. at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Texas will host the NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championship for the first time since 2003 from Thursday to Saturday at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. 

Head coach Eddie Reese has led the Longhorns to 10 NCAA titles in his 36 years as head coach, and if Texas finishes in first place this weekend, Reese will be tied with former Ohio State coach Mike Peppe for the NCAA record of 11 titles. 

The men’s No. 6 team has qualified four divers and shares the lead with California with 16 swimmers attending the championship. 

Reese has trained his athletes rigorously since September to prepare for the most important meet of the season. This is the weekend their hard work will potentially pay off.

“To make this meet is a great statement,” Reese said. “A great commitment.” 

Freshman diver Mark Anderson qualified at the NCAA Zone ‘D’ Diving Meet in Minneapolis earlier this month, finishing first with 840.6 points, despite having been out of platform diving for weeks because of an ear condition. 

After undergoing a corrective operation, Anderson is now required to wear a polo cap when he competes, but that isn’t holding him back. 

After qualifying for his first NCAA Championship, Anderson’s teammates shared a photo via Instagram of Reese and all the swimmers wearing identical caps. 

Diving coach Matt Scoggin has been impressed with Anderson’s perseverance this season. 

“He had a great ability to stay cool and calm and focus on what makes the dive work at a very crucial moment,” Scoggin said. 

In its seven times hosting the NCAA Championship, Texas has won three of the titles. Junior diver Will Chandler considers home-pool advantage to help the team.

“We are very comfortable here,” Chandler said. “The guys are starting on their own blocks.” 

Michigan took the 2013 NCAA Championship title, followed by California and Arizona, and Texas finished in fifth place. This year, 20 determined Longhorns are hoping to keep the title at home. 

“You will see a bunch of kids that have got a great shot to make the Olympics in 2016,” Reese said. 

The competition kicks off at 11 a.m. Thursday, with the preliminary rounds and finals to follow at 7 p.m. 

Texas seeks repeat of last year’s Big 12 title

The sixth-ranked Longhorn’s swimming and diving team seeks a repeat of its Big 12 championship this weekend at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. Texas has not competed since its win in Arizona three weeks ago.

The Longhorns will host Iowa State, Kansas, TCU and West Virginia — the only other Big 12 schools with women’s programs.

Head coach Carol Capitani said one of the team’s main motivations is continuing the tradition of quality the program has established.

“Each day, during the week leading up to the conference championship, players will have a chance to come with an inspirational quote and have a chance to share with the team,” Capitani said. “It is a good indicator of progress made between freshman and senior years.”

“Nothing is for granted,” Capitani said. “We need to go win the Big 12. The best athletes want to be good.”

Horns chase 18th title in a row this weekend

The No. 8 Longhorns men’s swimming and diving team will look to claim its 18th consecutive Big 12 title at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center this weekend. 

Texas has won every league title since the tournament began in 1996 and has earned 34 conference championships under head coach Eddie Reese. 

“We have real good guys that buy into the program,” Reese said. “They know what delayed gratification is and work hard from September until now to prepare.”

After another strong season, the Longhorn men are favored to win the title this weekend. “This is a meet where you’re going to see real good swimmers,” Reese said. “You’re going to see a number of people that will be on the 2016 Olympic team, and when the NCAA’s come here, you will see a lot of them that are going to be there.”

This weekend‘s meet will feature the Longhorns, TCU and West Virginia, the only three Big 12 schools that compete in men’s aquatics. Texas claimed the 2013 Big 12 title against the same two schools with 985 total points.     

“We’ve got probably three or four good guys in each event, they’ve got one or two,” Reese said. “There’s going to be some real competitive races.”

No. 10 Texas finished its regular season matchups defeating both SMU and No. 5 Arizona on Friday while taking 10 events in an unscored exhibition Saturday at Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.

The Longhorns dominated SMU 228-66 while posting a closer margin against Arizona, 154-146, only pulling ahead in the final event of the day. Texas ended the season with a 5-3 record.

Senior Laura Sogar took first in the 200 breaststroke as she holds UT’s record in the event. Sophomore Gretchen Jaques claimed a pair of victories in the 100 breaststroke and the 100 butterfly while junior Samantha Tucker won the 200 freestyle.

Redshirt junior Maren Taylor and senior Shelby Cullinan, finished one-two in both the one-meter and three-meter diving events.

Having already secured a win against SMU, the Longhorns took the lead against Arizona with one-two finishes in the 400 individual medley. Sophomore Kaitlin Pawlowicz took the win as Sogar came in second and junior Victoria Cassidy fourth. A 200 freestyle relay win solidified the victory. 

Texas competes next when it hosts the Big 12 Championships on Feb. 27.

For the second time in a two-month span, Olympic gold medalists Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin will be swimming in Austin at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.

This time, though, it’s the Austin leg of the six-meet Arena Grand Prix Series which starts Friday and runs through Sunday. Other Olympians competing include Tyler Clary, Amanda Weir, Conor Dwyer, Chloe Sutton, Mark Gangloff and Kate Ziegler along with Longhorn Aquatics swimmers Ricky Berens, Garrett Weber-Gale and Jimmy Feigen.

Preliminary heats start at 9 a.m. each day, while finals begin at 6 p.m. Austin-based band Casino will perform Saturday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. to highlight the festivities.

The Arena Grand Prix Series gives the swimmers an opportunity to race against the best competition in the country to prepare for the 2013 Phillips 66 National Championships in Indianapolis, World University Games in Russia and the FINA World Championships in Spain.

If you have never been to a high-profile swimming competition, today is your day as past medalists and Olympic hopefuls pack the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center for the 2012 USA AT&T Winter National Championships.

That means many London Olympics stars such as Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Nathan Adrian, Matt Grevers and Katie Ledecky will be competing alongside the best high school, NCAA and professional swimmers. Former Longhorns Ricky Berens, Jimmy Feigen and Garrett Weber-Gale, who are also Olympic medalists, will join them at the meet.

The midseason national championships, the biggest meet since the London Olympics, starts Thursday and runs through Saturday. Preliminaries each day start at 9 a.m. and the finals begin at 5 p.m. An all-session pass for the weekend’s events can be purchased at the door or online at the Longhorn Aquatics store. Texas students can purchase tickets at a reduced price.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to have nationals at our pool,” Carol Capitani, women’s swimming head coach, said. “It’s a great chance to really showcase our facility.”

The events Thursday include the 200 freestyle relay, 500 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle and 400 medley relay. Lochte, Franklin, Ledecky and many others will race Thursday.

Senior Dax Hill said he was excited to share the pool with Olympic medalists.

“No doubt, it’s a high atmosphere swim meet,” Hill said. “What you ultimately want is to get next to one of these guys in a race.”

Hill is one of a few Texas swimmers to keep an eye on this weekend. On the men’s side, Clay Youngquist, Michael McBroom, Kip Darmody and Hill have all won NCAA championships. Youngquist is ranked No. 1 in the NCAA for the 200 freestyle and No. 7 for the 500 freestyle, both of which will take place Thursday. On the women’s side, freshman Kaitlin Pawlowicz and all-American senior Laura Sogar — ranked in the Top 10 for the 100 and 200 breaststroke ­— have both been off to hot starts.

The championships can be watched by webcast at or Sunday at 1 p.m. on NBC.

Printed on Thursday, November 29, 2012 as: Championship draws Olympians into Austin

Seniors Laura Sogar, Kelsey Amundsen, Maren Taylor and sophomore Kaitlin Pawlowicz captured two wins apiece to help the Longhorns defeat both Indiana and Michigan in the home opener Friday at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.

Texas ousted Indiana 172-128 while crushing the Wolverines 217-83.

“It means a lot,” head coach Carol Capitani said of capturing the first wins of the season and her head coaching career. “I wanted to start off on the right foot. We showed some character and toughness tonight. But we just need to keep working.”

Sogar, the school record holder in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, swam away from the Hoosiers and Wolverines in both those events notching times good enough for an NCAA “B” cut.

“She is very consistent and dependable,” Capitani said of Sogar. “She is one of the best girls in the country, and I am lucky to have her.”

Taylor, a two-time All-American, swept the diving events.

The Longhorns will travel to Cal-Berkley on Friday to take on the defending champs before going up against Stanford on Saturday.

Texas begins its season Friday at 3 p.m. at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in the annual Orange-White intrasquad meet.

The team will divide into two squads and compete against one another.

“I am excited to see them race,” head coach Carol Capitani, who replaced Kim Brackin in April, said. “It’s been awhile of just pure training, so it will be fun to see where they are as a team and individually.”

While the Longhorns look to improve on their ninth-place finish at last year’s NCAA championships, Capitani knows that under her leadership, they will take time before they are back to where they were during the late ‘80s ­— NCAA champions.

“Hopefully we can improve on where we were last year,” Capitani said. “I’m not just being humble. This year is about building the bricks for success.”

The team will be returning eight of the 10 individuals who had top-16 performances in the championship meet: Bethany Adams, Kelsey Amundsen, Kelsey LeNeave, Ellen Lobb, Lily Moldenhauer, Laura Sogar, Samantha Tucker and Diana Wilcox.

Their first official meet will come next weekend at the SMU Classic in Dallas, and Sogar is looking forward to getting the season started.

“There is incredible talent on this team and the motivation factor and the hard work that’s being put in is second to none,” Sogar said. “We are really excited for this year. We want to prove ourselves to everyone.”

Texas sophomore Laura Sogar competes at the Austin Grand Prix, one of eight in the Grand Prix series. Swimming in familiar waters at UT’s Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, Sogar finished fourth in the 100-meter breastroke final with a time o

Photo Credit: Danielle Villasana | Daily Texan Staff

The Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center at UT played host to the USA Swimming Austin Grand Prix Series this weekend, accommodating star swimmers like Michael Phelps and Janet Evans, as well as past and present Longhorns that fared well.

The first day of competition saw five former Longhorns qualify for Olympic trials. Ricky Berens led on the men’s side, taking second in the 100-yard freestyle, while David Walters and Garrett Weber-Gale also qualified for trials in the event. Susana Escobar and Adrienne Woods both bested the Olympic qualifying time in the 400-yard freestyle.

“I am very excited to be back because this feels like home after swimming here for four and a half years,” Berens said, “I have so many great memories at this place, the pool and the city, so being back and seeing all the burnt orange is
pretty incredible.”

The men continued their strong swimming on day two as Berens emerged victorious in the 200-yard freestyle, and Michael Klueh took third. David Walters performed big as well, placing fifth in the 200-yard freestyle and third in the 50-yard freestyle.

The successful trend continued on Saturday as both former and present Longhorns swam huge on the women’s side. Woods, a former Longhorn, placed eighth and fifth respectively in the 200-yard freestyle and the 200-yard backstroke. Current UT women’s captain Karlee Bispo placed 19th in the 200 freestyle but still qualified for Olympic trials. Freshman Kaitlin Pawlowicz finished 20th in 200 backstroke and qualified for the trials as well.

The ladies capped off an impressive grand prix performance with big performances from current UT swimmers. Laura Sogar placed fourth place in the 100-yard backstroke, easily qualifying for Olympic trials in the event. Bispo and Pawlowicz both qualified for Olympic trials in the 200-yard IM and 200-yard butterfly events, respectively.

“I was very happy to make the finals,” Sogar said, “People are really ready to go at this meet and there are some enormous names here, so it is great to be up there with them at this time of the season.

Klueh closed out the grand prix for the men, winning the mile swim.

Phelps, the eight-time gold medalist from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, had a successful weekend in what was one of his last events before retirement. He said he wants to call it quits after the 2012 London Olympics, and this weekend brought out the nostalgia.

“All of the memories are really hitting me,” Phelps said after winning the 200-meter individual medley. “It’s kind of weird closing everything down.”