Kim Brackin

Courtesy of Bristel Bowen

For Kim Brackin, former Longhorn women’s swim coach, there are no more recruiting calls. There isn’t as much travelling. And there are no more team swimming practices.

Instead, the one-time Northwestern, Auburn and Texas women’s swimming coach started an innovative swim training facility in Austin. Brackin Elite Swim Training (BEST), which began Oct. 1, focuses on improving technique and efficiency for elite athletes in a one-on-one environment.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love college coaching,” Brackin said. “But when you’re in a big program and have 30 kids or so, giving one-on-one attention is challenging.”

After being relieved of her duties April 2 as the head coach at Texas, she began to think about it as an opportunity to be able to teach in a more personal way. Doing much of her preliminary planning in May and research in June, Brackin was well on her way to getting this system started.

There was no better place and system, in her mind, than what she devised.

“I love coaching, and I love Austin,” Brackin said. “One of the things I feel like is my strongest aspect of coaching is technique and doing one-on-one work with athletes. So why not do this?”

This program isn’t completely about the instructor, though. There is a reason she has been calling it innovative.

Her clients swim in an Endless Pool Elite. The pool controls the power of the current so that the water moves past the swimmer, while the swimmer practically swims in place.

“I’m standing right next to you the whole time,” Brackin said about the Endless Pool Elite. “When I’m on a college deck, they are further away from me, and I can’t always see what they are doing. Now I have a bird’s eye view of the swimmer all the time, allowing for better coaching.”

But the Endless Pool Elite has more than just a custom current. It has underwater and overhead mirrors, and every session is taped from above and below the surface to allow Brackin and her client to analyze film during each session via DartFish.

“The vantage points you get from these technologies are unparalleled,” Brackin said. “The most exciting part for a swimmer is that there are mirrors in the water so they can watch themselves swim. And in the moment, if they are intelligent enough, they can make stroke corrections on their own.”

Brackin, who has mentored seven Olympians, has started off primarily with professional triathletes, but she works with anyone who wants to improve their swimming technique. She figured that her clientele will most likely be high school and club swimmers.

Printed on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 as: Brackin opens training center

Swim coach says goodbye

After six years spent coaching women’s swimming at UT, head coach Kim Brackin is parting ways with the university, the Women’s Athletics Department announced today.

In her six seasons as head coach, Brackin brought the Longhorns to four top 10 finishes but no national titles despite an impressive roster of top-recruited swimmers. This year, the team earned 20 All-America honors and seven honorable mentions and placed ninth at the NCAA Championships.

Brackin’s 2010-2011 team won the Big 12 Championship title and earned sixth place at the NCAA Championships held in Austin, and was subsequently named Big 12 Conference Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year.

Prior to her tenure at Texas, Brackin coached at Auburn University, where she worked with men’s and women’s swimmers and part of seven NCAA championships.

The hunt for a new coach will begin immediately, according to a statement released on texassports.com.

Swimming & Diving

After four days at the Big 12 Championships in Columbia, Mo., the Longhorns returned home to Austin with a second place finish to Texas A&M.

Head coach Kim Brackin had hoped for better. And so had the team.

“As a whole, I’m a bit disappointed,” Brackin said. “Whenever you don’t meet one of your goals it’s disappointing, but I feel really good about where we are right now in terms of moving forward.”

Since next year’s Big 12 meet won’t consist of its traditional fierce rivalry with the Aggies, that second place is a tad more bitter for the team who wanted to defeat A&M one last time.

“They’re disappointed — you can see it in their faces,” said Brackin about her team. “It was the last Big 12 meet as we know it, but we can’t control what other teams do. We can only control ourselves, and I think it takes a really mature team to swim through a meet that requires so much emotion.”

The next step, Brackin said, will involve placing the team’s lingering emotions of last weekend’s meet behind them and setting their sights on improvement.

“Now the key is in how they respond,” she said. “Do they prepare, or do they dwell on the fact that they got beat by a team who was better at the moment?”

Despite finishing behind A&M, stellar individual performances aren’t to be ignored, Brackin said.

Sam Tucker had a really nice meet — I was really pleased with her demeanor through the meet,” Brackin said. “I think it was a good learning experience for Karlee [Bispo], because she got to learn a little bit more about her best racing strategies before we head into NCAAs.”

Brackin said Laura Sogar’s improvement throughout the four days was crucial to the team.

“She did better each day, each session,” Brackin said. “She was a really key asset for us, especially in the 200 breaststroke. She used the meet to really learn about her swimming.”

She also praised the performance of sophomore Ellen Lobb, who won the 50 freestyle on Thursday and performed strongly throughout the meet.

“Ellen Lobb was awesome,” Brackin said. “She is really coming into her own and is becoming a much more confident swimmer. If you’re enjoying it and having fun and having confidence in yourself, results turn out good.”

As for how the past weekend’s events will affect those swimmers continuing on to NCAAs, Brackin said it’s tough to predict, but she hopes it will motivate the team to continue to push itself.

“It could go a lot of different ways; they could be down and doubtful or they could use it as fuel, and I think that’s what will happen,” she said. “I think they’re going to take the desire to swim faster over the next two weeks and hopefully apply it.”

The womenÂ’s swimming and diving team competes in the Big 12 Championship in Columbia, Missouri today.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Eighteen members of the women's swimming and diving team will grab their swim bags and head to Columbia, Mo. for the Big 12 Championships on Wednesday with thoughts of rivalry tucked beneath their caps.

A four-day meet with preliminaries and finals will bring together the best of the Big 12, including long-standing swimming rival Texas A&M.

“It's highly contested, usually between A&M and us,” said head coach Kim Brackin. “Missouri brings a lot of good swimmers and there are swimmers from other teams that will show up in the top eight. It's a pretty good battle between us and A&M and we're excited to go head-to-head with them.”

Key Longhorns to watch include Karlee Bispo in freestyle, Lily Moldenhauer in butterfly, backstroke and freestyle and Samantha Tucker in freestyle.

Brackin also said All-American breaststroker Laura Sogar will face one of the top breaststroke swimmers in the country hailing from Texas A&M.

The freshmen competitors will be particularly exciting to watch, Brackin said.

“They're just eager, they're excited and they're wanting to get to this meet and contribute. They are really excited about contributing for a Texas win,” she said.

Several members of the team have already qualified for the upcoming NCAA Championships, while others hope to qualify with times earned at this meet.

“I'm really excited about it,” senior swimmer Bispo said. “I think since it’s getting closer, it's getting more real, and watching other conferences have their conference meets is getting me more and more excited to race and watch my teammates race. This is what we prepare for all year.”

Brackin said the team as a whole feels solid heading into this meet.

“They're energetic about it and I think they feel united about this particular meet,” she said. “They have so much pride in the University of Texas and what the history of the program is, and they want to continue a winning tradition for Texas.”

Preliminaries begin on Wednesday and run through Saturday with finals set for Sunday.

Printed on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 as: Rival A&M stands in way of title hopes for Horns

Senior Karlee Bispo was named Big 12 Swimmer of the Week for the fourth time this season and 10th time of her career, both conference records.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Receiving the Big 12 Swimmer of the Week award is an honor for any swimmer. Senior swimmer Karlee Bispo has now had that honor four times this season.

Last week, she became the first female swimmer in Big 12 conference history to receive the Big 12 Swimmer of the Week award four times in a single season.

Bispo, a senior freestyle champion and 11-time All-American, now holds the most career honors of any woman in Big 12 swimming and diving history.

“It’s a big honor because of how competitive the Big 12 is,” Bispo said. “It’s an honor to be thought of by the coaches, and it’s another confidence booster leading into the Big 12 Championships.”

With 15 race wins behind her thus far this season, Bispo’s versatility and determination make her a crucial competitive asset for the team, head coach Kim Brackin said.

“She’s been invaluable to this program,” Brackin said. “You can put her anywhere and she’ll step up and race.”
In addition to success in the water, Brackin said Bispo serves as a natural leader for her teammates.

“She is certainly a leader on the team in terms of dual meets, and I think the team really looks up to her in terms of her wavering ability to just lay it on the line whenever she needs to,” Brackin said.

Bispo will head to Columbia, Mo. with her teammates on Wednesday to compete in the Big 12 Championships.

Printed on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 as: Bispo breaks record with weekly honor

The Longhorns ended their two-game losing streak with a win over No. 7 Arizona this weekend. Texas held a commanding lead over the Wildcats after the first day of competition with a score of 119-67, having claimed seven victories. Texas easily put away the ‘Cats, 189-156.

The significance of the victory extends beyond this weekend.

“We talked about visualizing today’s session as a third day of a NCAA Championship or Big 12 meet,” said Texas head coach Kim Brackin, referring to the final day of competition in those big meets. “I gave them the challenge to come back and be even better than [on Friday].”

Whatever Brackin said in the locker room must have worked. The Texas divers conquered the boards. Sophomore Maren Taylor claimed a victory in both the one-meter spring board event and the platform. Red-shirt sophomore Shelby Cullinan stepped up in the three-meter spring board competition to prevent Arizona from taking a single diving event.

Junior Leah Gingrich had a spectacular weekend, claiming several wins for the team, including both the 1,650-yard freestyle and 200-yard butterfly events. She also turned in a season-best time in the 500.

In addition to Gingrich, all-American Karlee Bispo had a hand in several victories. Bispo dominated the freestyle races.

“I’m really happy with how the team came together,” Brackin said. “We had a nice first session - I think we’re in a good spot right now.”
 

This weekend was highlighted by several broken records. Sophomore Laura Sogar once again dominated the pool by setting several school records, most notably in the 200 breaststroke which marked the third time this season that she has lowered her time. Although these records were the ones that excited the crowd, the personal records that were broken this weekend throughout the team was what impressed the coaches.

“It’s always nice to rewrite record books, especially at a place like Texas where there is so much history,” said head coach Kim Brackin. “We feel really good about those. There [were] a lot of girls that broke their own individual personal records, [which] to me is almost as exciting as getting the school ones.”

All of these records contributed to a convincing win where the Longhorns surpassed their competition well before the final race. They ended with 1,062 points, which was well above Arizona’s 819-point, second-place finish.

“Overall I think it was definitely a successful weekend, Maren and the rest of the team did amazing — across the board there were great swims,” Sogar said, “I can’t think of a single event where we didn’t have a person light it up.”

The diving team also contributed many points to the Longhorns’ victory. Sophomore Maren Taylor claimed first in the 1- and 3-meter springboard and redshirt sophomore Shelby Cullinan had an impressive third place finish in the 3-meter springboards.

“The women had a very good meet this weekend,” said diving head coach Matt Scoggin, “They all know they have some things, individual dives that they need to learn or improve on, but they know they are moving in the right direction.”

Texas now heads to winter training in order to get a head start on the upcoming competitions next spring. In Colorado, they hope to get back to an intensive training schedule while working on skills including starts and turns. Overall, the women look to be in good shape for the many competitions ahead on their schedule.

“I think we are a little better than I expected right now, which is exciting,” Brackin said, “I feel very confident about the position we are in and I feel like we can springboard off this meet with the work we have behind us and the momentum that the meet created.” 

Women's swimming & diving

Despite inconsistencies connected with the renovations at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center that forced the closure of the pool throughout their summer practice schedule, the Longhorns are poised for an exciting season. Texas travels this weekend to compete against the University of California in their first true contest of the season.

Diving coach Matt Scoggin praised the team for how they have handled these less-than-ideal conditions.

“When we moved back in, things weren’t exactly perfect just yet, but kudos to the team for really not throwing a single complaint up through the whole month,” he said. “They are ready to go.”

Swimming and diving head coach Kim Brackin mirrored Scoggin’s optimism despite the renovations, maintaining that the team is “well-conditioned” heading into the fall.

The team has positive expectations as it heads to California — the same place they began their 2008 campaign.

“Just knowing what the pool looks like and having that sense of familiarity is a positive thing,” Brackin said.

This sense of familiarity will go a long way as the Longhorns face a strong California team lead by sophomore Caitlin Leverenz, junior Liv Jensen and senior Hannah Wilson.

Texas brings a team heavy with freshmen, but Brackin is confident that they are where they need to be."

“They are doing a great job,” Brackin said. “They understand that this is the University of Texas and [that] they have to work really hard.”

In addition to a large amount of freshman talent, Kathleen Hersey, along with Laura Sogar and Karlee Bispo, lead a strong returning group.

The diving team is no less prepared.

“Physically we’re stronger than we’ve ever been,” Scoggin said.

Junior Lauren Caldwell, sophomores Maren Taylor, Diana Wilcox and Samantha Holland and redshirt sophomore Shelby Cullinan lead a diving team that will be a “force to contend with.”

The Longhorns surprised California when the two squads last faced off in 2008. This year, Brackin knows the Golden Bears will be ready.

“They know when Texas travels to a meet that we’re ready to race,” Brackin said.  

Despite inconsistencies connected with the renovations at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center that forced the closure of the pool throughout their summer practice schedule, the Longhorns are poised for an exciting season. Texas travels this weekend to compete against the University of California in their first true contest of the season.

Diving coach Matt Scoggin praised the team for how they have handled these less-than-ideal conditions.

“When we moved back in, things weren’t exactly perfect just yet, but kudos to the team for really not throwing a single complaint up through the whole month,” he said. “They are ready to go.”

Swimming and diving head coach Kim Brackin mirrored Scoggin’s optimism despite the renovations, maintaining that the team is “well-conditioned” heading into the fall.

The team has positive expectations as it heads to California — the same place they began their 2008 campaign.

“Just knowing what the pool looks like and having that sense of familiarity is a positive thing,” Brackin said.

This sense of familiarity will go a long way as the Longhorns face a strong California team lead by sophomore Caitlin Leverenz, junior Liv Jensen and senior Hannah Wilson.

Texas brings a team heavy with freshmen, but Brackin is confident that they are where they need to be."

“They are doing a great job,” Brackin said. “They understand that this is the University of Texas and [that] they have to work really hard.”

In addition to a large amount of freshman talent, Kathleen Hersey, along with Laura Sogar and Karlee Bispo, lead a strong returning group.

The diving team is no less prepared.

“Physically we’re stronger than we’ve ever been,” Scoggin said.

Junior Lauren Caldwell, sophomores Maren Taylor, Diana Wilcox and Samantha Holland and redshirt sophomore Shelby Cullinan lead a diving team that will be a “force to contend with.”

The Longhorns surprised California when the two squads last faced off in 2008. This year, Brackin knows the Golden Bears will be ready.

“They know when Texas travels to a meet that we’re ready to race,” Brackin said.