Carol Capitani

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

It’s no secret that Texas women’s swimming and diving is a perennial powerhouse in the Big 12.  

Few would dare to contradict that statement as the Longhorns flexed their muscles Saturday night. Texas won its sixth consecutive Big 12 championship by scoring 1,021 points and completing a clean sweep of events — 21 events, 21 first-place medals.

“I think (a complete sweep) is what we were going for,” said Texas head coach Carol Capitani, who was named coach of the meet for the second consecutive year.  

Capitani, now in her sixth season at Texas, has won the Big 12 title each year during her stint with the Longhorns.  

Through a large portion of the meet, event finals primarily featured Texas swimmers filling the lanes. Often times Longhorn swimmers finished 1-3, a tribute to the culture and standard of Capitani’s program.  

“I think that kind of culture starts at home,” Capitani said. “Practices are competitive, and we like to recruit like-minded athletes who like to compete.”

One of those is sophomore Claire Adams, who was named the Big 12 women’s swimmer of the meet after winning the 100 backstroke and freestyle individually, in addition to swimming for all relays. Adams’ individual successes were capped off by breaking a meet record in the 100 freestyle.  

Freshman Evie Pfeifer seemed to have little trouble completing her sweep of distance events, taking the 1650 by nearly 40 seconds and shattering her previous personal record by more than 8 seconds.   

Many times it seemed the Longhorns’ biggest competitors were themselves, which was made evident when Remedy Rule and Lauren Case traded first and second in the 100 and 200 butterfly, respectively. Or perhaps when Adams out-nudged Rebecca Millard to break a meet record Millard had set just that morning. Or when Kennedy Lohman and Olivia Anderson finished first and second, respectively, in the 100 and 200 breastroke.

“I think it’s awesome that we have that kind of competition within our team,” Adams said. “If (my team) is swimming well, that means I’m swimming well.”

This mentality was not restricted to the swimmers, as Texas continued its success on the diving boards and platforms. Sophomore standout Alison Gibson was named the women’s diver of the meet after winning both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events. Murphy Bromberg completed the sweep of the diving events with her victory on the platform under the coaching of Matt Scoggin.

Capitani offered high praise for Scoggin, calling him “one of the best coaches in the country, and probably in the world.”

Scoggin was named the Big 12 women’s diving coach of the meet.  

The No. 4 Longhorns hope to improve on last year’s performance at the NCAA Championship meet, when they finished in the top five. Texas will attempt to earn its eighth team national title in Columbus, Ohio, and bring the first to Austin since 1991.

Sophomore Tasija Karosas, who won the 200-yard backstroke at the Big 12 Championships, is one of the returning members of the women’s swimming and diving team that looks to build on its ninth place finish last year at nationals.

Photo Credit: Andrea Kurth | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas women’s swimming and diving team opens the season this Friday with its annual Orange and White scrimmage.

Last season, the Longhorns won their second consecutive Big 12 Championship title, but had to settle for ninth in the NCAA Championships behind powerhouse teams such as Cal and Georgia. The team and head coach Carol Capitani, who swam for Cal and coached at Georgia, said being No. 9 this year will not suffice. They want to win. They are, as Capitani put it, “hungry.”

“They want to be good now; they have less patience than I do,” Capitani said. “Their enthusiasm is there, and they have a chip on their shoulder.”

The Longhorns lost five of their top swimmers this year, including Maren Taylor, two-time silver NCAA Championship medalist diver. In response, Texas has gained six more promising athletes: freshmen Sydney Couch (diver), Sammie Hashbarger, Bethany Leap, Rebecca Millard, Mimi Schneider and Sam Sutton.

Although some on the team are new to the caliber of a top-flight program, the coaches have been consistent in providing feedback and encouragement to further develop the women this season.

“We just want to be better. We want everyone to improve,” Capitani said. “Our staff looked over the results from two years ago, when I walked in here [for the first time as head coach] at this inter-squad meet. We have been swimming faster at practice than we had at that meet.”

Returning team members include 13-time All-American senior Sarah Denninghoff; sophomore Madisyn Cox, 2014 Team USA FINA Short Course World Championship member; and Tasija Karosas, 200-yard backstroke Big 12 champion and sophomore.

Texas has seven verbal commits for this upcoming year. Although they will not be officially confirmed until signing in November, Capitani said it will be one of the best classes Texas has signed so far. 

“Word is getting out, and people are beginning to believe in this [program], and representing Texas means a lot for the caliber of people we are recruiting,” Capitani said.

Head coach Carol Capitani says her team must never take a top-10 finish for granted. With a third consecutive ninth place finish, Texas showed a complete team effort from both its swimmers and divers. The Longhorns tallied up 144 total points in the three-day championship event but came up short against back-to-back champion Georgia (528 points) and runner-up Stanford (386).

Texas senior diver Maren Taylor capped off her final NCAA Championships with two runner-up finishes. Taylor tallied 399.30 total points including a meet-best 73.5 that led her to a second-place finish in the three-meter diving event.

“My hat’s off again to our divers,” Capitani said. “They are incredible. It’s great inspiration. It’s fun to be working together as a team.”

Longhorn junior diver and UCLA transfer, Emma Ivory-Ganja, had a roller coaster ride in the final. Ivory-Ganja began to climb the standings two rounds into the five total from fifth place. She jumped her way into third place with her 1.5-twist somersault before just one round remained. Ivory-Ganja saved her best for last, scoring 76.80 with a final dive that catapulted her into first place. USC diver Haley Ishimatsu eclipsed Ivory-Ganja’s total with her last dive of the event, but Ivory-Ganja still provided Texas with significant points in a second-place finish.

The Longhorns capped off the meet finishing fifth in the 400 free relay consolation final. The relay team was led by seniors Ellen Lobb, Alex Hooper and Samantha Tucker, as well as junior Gretchen Jacques.

“I’m proud of the leadership and how the upperclassmen are passing the torch down to our younger kids,” Capitani said. “Gretchen [Jacques] has definitely grown up.”

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.”

Women’s swimming and diving team travels to Bloomington, Ind., on Friday to compete in a double-dual meet with Michigan and Indiana. 

In last year’s meeting of the three teams, Texas emerged victorious after defeating Indiana 172-128 and Michigan 217-83. 

“I like that we get to race two really good teams, and I like that we get to see our kids race three weekends in a row, which is kind of unusual” said head coach Carol Capitani.

Two Longhorns were recently awarded conference recognition as senior Samantha Tucker was named Big 12 Women’s Swimmer of the Week and junior Emma Ivory-Ganja Women’s Diver of the Week. Tucker produced the 10th-fastest time in college swimming with her mark of 1:47.95 last weekend, while Ivory-Ganja won the three-meter diving event against last meet’s opponent, Texas A&M.

“October is a great time for training,” Capitani said. “This is the time when we’re getting better and we’re learning. I want us to race tough, and I want to learn a few more things about
these kids.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Texas’ women’s swimming and diving team will open its 2013-2014 season by hosting Rice at Joe Jamail Swim Center Friday afternoon.

Head coach Carol Capitani and her staff look to have a strong team, a favorable mix of youth and experience excited to establish themselves as national contenders, beginning with their first opponent.

“Our fall training has been going really well,” Capitani said. “I think the thing I like most is that we have 10 new kids.”

With a freshmen recruiting class ranked 11th in the nation by swimswam.com, the Longhorns are poised to make another run for the conference title under second-year coach
Capitani. Named conference coach of the year in 2013, Capitani came to Austin after spending 14 seasons on the coaching staff at Georgia — a historically prominent program. 

Tasija Karosas and Brynne Wong headline a talented freshmen class that includes in-state standout Madisyn Cox.

The youth influx brings a renewed competitive energy to fall practices. 

“It is a very hardworking group of girls,” senior freestyler Samantha Tucker said. “They get after it every single day.”  

Texas also has plenty of collegiate and international experience to anchor the team. Seniors Sarah Denninghoff and Ellen Lobb and junior Gretchen Jaques return from last year’s Big 12 winning 400-yard medley relay team.

“There is a lot of healthy competition, and it has been a lot of fun,” Capitani said of the team’s practices.             

The Longhorns also boast one of the top diving programs in the country, including two divers with international competition experience in senior Maren Taylor and freshman Murphy Bromberg.  Both can be expected to contribute heavily to the team’s point totals, but fans will have to wait to see the divers, as the event will not be included Friday.      

While another Big 12 Championship is a reasonable expectation, the team resists complacency.  

“I think that is the main priority, just improving every year,” Tucker said.

Several members of the Texas men’s swimming and diving team celebrate winning the Big 12 title Saturday, the program’s 34th straight conference championship. The Longhorns women’s swimming and diving squad also won a conference title, its 11th since joning the Big 12.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Both of Texas’ swimming and diving teams took home the team Big 12 championship Saturday after four days of competition. It is the men’s 17th Big 12 title and the women’s 11th.  

The men extended their dominance, earning their 34th consecutive conference crown under head coach Eddie Reese. This is the women’s first title with first-year head coach Carol Capitani.  

The No. 1 Texas men’s team walked away with 985 points, 187 more than second-place TCU and 197 more than West Virginia, who took third place with 788 points.

“We always want to go significantly faster than we’d been swimming. If we do that, that usually takes care of winning,” Reese said.

Texas took first in every event except one and was able to put itself in good position for the upcoming NCAA Championships later this month. 

Seniors Cole Cragin and Dax Hill, along with sophomore Tripp Cooper and junior Madison Wenzler, set the tone for the meet with a win and an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 1:25.23 in the 200-yard medley relay. 

In the 1650-yard freestyle, senior Michael McBroom destroyed the Big 12 meet record in 14:33.53, the fastest time by anyone in the country this season.

In the 500-yard freestyle, McBroom (4:14.42) and sophomore Jacob Ritter (4:15.85) both earned NCAA automatic-qualifying marks and accomplished new personals bests. 

“I didn’t quite go what I wanted to go,” McBroom said. “I wasn’t really thinking about the record. I was thinking about a goal time.” 

Cooper controlled the 100-yard butterfly in 46.85 seconds, fast enough for a NCAA “B” cut, while senior Austin Surhoff produced a time good enough for an NCAA “B” cut in the 400-yard and 200-yard individual medley.

“Everybody is learning,” Hill said. “They are taking it all in, and they knew what to work on these next couple weeks before NCAA’s.”

The ninth-ranked women crushed the competition on the last day, pulling 475 points ahead of second place West Virginia, who scored 576 points. TCU rounded out the top three with 574 points. 

“I know it looked like we ran away with it,” Capitani said. “But we did have some good competition and some races where we competed against ourselves. I’m happy we raced hard and came through every night.”

Texas’ only three individual title losses came from Rachael Burnett of West Virginia and the 200-yard butterfly that no Longhorn participated in. Texas swept every relay and each secured NCAA automatic-qualifying times.

Senior Laura Sogar broke the Big 12 Championship record in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:05.25, good for the second fastest time in school history.

“It is really exciting,” Sogar said. “This is my last race at this pool. I am happy to get the record and end on a really good note.”

Senior Shelby Cullinan won her first title on the platform diving event, as did freshman Meghan Houston on the 3-meter diving board. Redshirt junior Maren Taylor rounded out her career with her third title on the 1-meter board.

“They’re excited to race some people and do what they can do under pressure,” Capitani said. “We’re looking to have some great relays and some standout performances individually. It’s time.”

Published on March 4, 2013 as "Horns capture Big 12 titles". 

The Longhorns will travel to the West Coast this weekend for a pair of outdoor duals against the two-time defending NCAA champion California Golden Bears (2-0) and the Stanford Cardinals (1-0). The Cal dual will start at 3 p.m. CDT Friday while the Stanford dual is Saturday at 2 p.m. CDT.

“It’s a great opportunity to swim against some of the best teams in the country,” said Texas head coach Carol Capitani, who will be going against her alma mater for the first time.

“California won the national championship last year, and Stanford was fourth at the NCAA Championships. It should be a great chance to see if we can put two days of great racing together.”

But the Longhorns, under their first-year head coach, have still trained rigorously this week despite the early season dual meets.

“We want to continue to improve upon the little things,” Capitani said. “We need to race tough. We’re not going to sacrifice training in favor of dual meets. We need to learn how to race well when we’re tired. We can only learn to be tough by swimming tough teams.” 

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.

The Longhorns will head up to SMU’s Perkins Natatorium for its first official meet this weekend. The tournament will last two days starting at 6:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.

Unlike traditional dual meets, the No. 9 Longhorns can only bring eight swimmers and one diver. They will go against USC, Florida, SMU, North Carolina and Louisville. All six teams, including Texas, are nationally ranked.

“I have never been to this sort of meet before,” first-year head coach Carol Capitani said. “We are going to see how one-third of our team is performing right now and how fit they are.”

Texas won the meet last year, but for the swimmers who have been training intensely, it’s more about the experience than the results.

“Our times are less of a concern,” senior swimmer Laura Sogar said. “It’s important getting out there, racing and practicing mental toughness.” Capitani, who is excited for her first meet as head coach, is more focused on her swimmers than the beginning of her coaching career.

“I just want them to race tough and maybe surprise some people,” Capitani said.