Photo Credit: Helen Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

This week’s matchup against North Carolina will boast a familial atmosphere when freshman swimmer Jordan Surhoff and North Carolina sophomore Kendall Surhoff meet head to head in the Longhorns’ second competition of the year. The teams will meet in the pool for the first time of the sisters’ collegiate careers in what is sure to be a family affair. 

“I am just really excited to watch both of them,” said older brother and former Longhorn swimmer Austin Surhoff. “This will be the first time I get to watch either of them in a college dual meet, so I am very excited for the opportunity.”

Austin Surhoff swam for Texas from 2009-13, finishing his final year of eligibility last spring. He continues to train with the team, looking to be more competitive on the USA swimming scene, and intends to race in the Austin Grand Prix in January. 

While the Surhoffs’ allegiances are split — mother Polly is a former Tarheel swimmer herself — the home crowd is likely to give Jordan the advantage in fans.

“I will be cheering equally hard for both sisters when they are in the water,” insisted Austin Surhoff. 

Though it is uncertain whether the sisters will be pitted against one another in the same race, a sibling rivalry will undoubtedly permeate the ambiance of the competition. 

“It is really competitive, we both like to beat each other but it is also really fun,” said Jordan Surhoff when asked what it is like to race against her sister. 

In the Longhorns’ opening meet with Rice, Jordan Surhoff finished second in both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke, posting a solid performance in her collegiate debut. Kendall and her North Carolina teammates swept the Virginia Tech Invitational Meet, beating Virginia Tech, Radford, Liberty and James Madison by winning 12 of 19 events in the Tarheels’ first competition of the season.

Both Texas and North Carolina come into Thursday’s meet undefeated, upping the ante from sibling bragging rights to taking an unblemished record into the third week of the season. 

Despite the meet’s intrigue, Jordan Surhoff has remain focused through the week’s practices, working hard toward improvement. 

“I want to better my times and also do everything I can to help UT win,” Jordan Surhoff said. 

Senior All-American Lily Moldenhauer looks to build on her performance against Rice where she handily defeated the field in both the 100- and 200-yard backstroke. Texas divers will get their first dual competition opportunity of the season on Thursday after the events were not included in last week’s meet.

“The Surhoffs never really get to be in the same place at the same time so it is pretty cool that we will all be here and I get to swim against my sister,” Jordan Surhoff said of the anticipated matchup.

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

Men's Swimming and Diving

Senior diver Drew Livingston was named Big 12 Diver of the Year over the weekend. Texas also swept the other four Big 12 awards gi

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

In a year that saw the Texas Men’s Swimming and Diving team earn many individual and team awards, it’s only fitting that the second ranked squad in the country claim a few more accolades at the season’s end. Texas won the Big 12 title in February and finished second at the National Championships last month.

Over the weekend, the Horns racked up a few more awards to add to a trophy case already bursting at the seams, as Texas claimed all five yearly Big 12 awards.

Head Coach Eddie Reese was named Coach of the Year, Matt Scoggin claimed Diving Coach of the Year honors, Jimmy Feigen was dubbed Swimmer of the Year, Drew Livingston was tabbed as Diver of the Year and Kip Darmody was crowned Newcomer of the Year. This is the fourth time since 2003 that Texas has claimed all five yearly awards.

Reese adds this year’s title to an already sterling resume, bringing in his seventh straight Coach of the Year honor and 10th overall during his tenure on the 40 Acres. Reese guided the Horns to their 16th consecutive Big 12 Title en route to a fifth consecutive first or second finish at the National Championships.

Matt Scoggin claimed his sixth Diving Coach of the year award in a season that saw senior divers Matt Cooper and Drew Livingston earn All-American honors and between them claim one National title, four top-four and six top-ten finishes at the NCAA Championships.

Senior Jimmy Feigen capped off what has been a prolific career at UT with his fourth consecutive Swimmer of the Year honor. The 24-time All-American earned national championships in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle and the 400-meter freestyle relay at this year’s NCAA Championships. Feigen’s is the first swimmer in conference history to win Big 12 Swimmer of the Year four straight years.

Drew Livingston’s Diver of the Year Honor is the third of the senior’s career. Livingston won the National Championship in the 1-meter while earning three more All-American honors, enough to be named NCAA Diver of the Meet.

Freshman Kip Darmody is an emerging force for this Texas squad. He was a member of the National Champion 800-yard relay squad and earned All-American honors in the 100 backstroke. Darmody’s Newcomer of the Year honor extends an impressive streak for the Horns, as Texas has had a swimmer earn the title every year since 2003.

Printed on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 as: National runners-up sweep Big 12 awards

Men's Swimming

The American Short Course Relays, held at the Lee and Joe Jamail Swim Center, kicked off yesterday with a total of 10 events, five each for men and women. The three-day event is a final opportunity for swimmers from colleges across the country to earn points to qualify for the NCAA swimming championships. It also serves as a tune-up for those who have already qualified before they make their runs at national titles.

Members of the No. 2 Texas men’s squad provided strong performances, earning victories in three out of the four events in which the team had entrants. The lone vacancy at the top of the leader board came at the hands of a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a former UT swimmer, Garrett Weber-Gale.

Weber-Gale, who trains with the club team Longhorn Aquatics in Austin, posted a blistering time of 19.20 in the 50-yard freestyle. However, a trio of UT sophomores was hot on the Olympian’s trail, and surged ahead to claim the remaining three spots.

Kerrington Hill and Charlie Moore tied with a time of 19.95, with Madison Wenzler close behind finishing at 19.98

Conor Swanson earned a victory for the Horns in the 200-yard individual medley. Swanson, a junior from Tampa, Fla., finished with a time of 1:46.11 and beat out former UT swimmer and four-time Olympic medalist Brendan Hansen.

Hansen, who swam for Texas from 2001-2004, re-joined the Longhorns in practices this week as he prepares for a shot to make the U.S. national team for the third time and compete in the 2012 London Olympics, using this meet as further practice towards completing that goal.

In the 500-yard freestyle, freshman Jake Ritter led the field with a time of 4:18.33, beating out fellow Longhorn Nicolas Munoz, who finished in fourth with a time of 4:29.09.

Texas clinched a final victory in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The winning squad featured some of UT’s most talented swimmers: senior Jimmy Feigen, sophomore Charlie Moore, freshman Tripp Cooper and Junior Dax Hill. Hill put the race in the bag with a strong anchor leg lap at a time of 19.01, ensuring the Horns a victory by a full second over their nearest competitors, SMU.

The event continues tomorrow with UT swimmers competing in four events. Preliminaries begin at 9:15 a.m., with finals beginning at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

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

Senior Karlee Bispo, an 11-time All-American and 15-time Big 12 champion, is setting her sights on this summer’s Olympic Games in London. Bispo, who competed in five events in the 2008 Olypmic trials, also holds six school records and was named 2011 Big 12 Women’s Swimmer of the Year.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Olympic dreams have long been in the making for swimming stars Karlee Bispo and Laura Sogar, but they aren’t letting the looming trials cramp their style in the pool during collegiate competition.

Bispo, a senior, and Sogar, a junior, are two of the women’s top contenders for spots on the Olympic team, among a group of other teammates who qualified for trials.

“Every young swimmer wants to go to the Olympics and I’ve always sort of had that dream,” Sogar said.

Bispo said she feels the trials will take place at an appropriate time in her career.

“It’s always been a dream,” she said of making the Olympic team. “I feel like I was kind of lucky having my first Olympic trials before I came to college and the next trials after four years of training in college, so I’m really excited to see the progress I’ve made and just really excited to be up there and contend for a spot.”

Bispo is an 11-time All-American and 15-time Big 12 champion. The northern California native was also the 2011 Big 12 Conference’s Women’s Swimmer of the Year with top times in the 100 and 200 freestyles as well as the 400 and 800 free relays and the 400 medley relay.

While she played a multitude of sports as a child, Bispo said she was naturally drawn to swimming.

“I would swim laps on my own when I was eight and begged my dad to let me join the team,” she said. “Now all my sisters swim, so it’s kind of become a family sport.”

At UT, the competitive spirit amongst teammates is one thing Bispo says propels her forward as a swimmer.

“The benefit of being on a college team is that you have other people just as fast as you or faster than you, so just having the dynamic of all those different speeds helps our team a lot in training,” she said. “One of my favorite things is to be able to train with people I know are going to push me every day.”

With the last regular meet before the Big 12 Championships behind her, Bispo will soon grapple with the fact that her time as a Texas swimmer is drawing to a close.

“I don’t think it’s fully hit me that it’s my last meet,” she said. “I’m sure after everything is over, it will hit me a little harder, but right now, I’m just trying to enjoy every moment.”

Bispo said while qualifying for the Olympic team won’t be an easy task, she has a clear plan of what she needs to do to nab a spot.

“I know that it’s really competitive,” she said. “The 200 free is probably my best shot, which is one of the most competitive races. I know I have to drop a couple of seconds to make the team, but that’s something I’m ready to do.”

Similarly, teammate Sogar has an Olympic mentality and a clear vision of the challenge ahead.

“It’s going to be really hard,” she said. “Breaststroke in America is really deep and there are only two spots. It’s going to be really hard, but I’m going to do everything I can to set myself up, so that I know when I leave trials I did everything in my power to give myself a shot at it.”

Like Bispo, Sogar has an impressive resume of accomplishments in the water. A three-time All-American and five-time Big 12 Champion, Sogar also holds school records in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. She was named Big 12 Conference Women’s Swimming and Diving Newcomer of the Year in 2010.

Sogar said the Olympic trials have slightly altered the mentality of the team, bringing a focus on long-term goals.

“There’s a different edge to everyone this year because it’s four years worth of dreams and hard work,” she said. “It’s a little bit more pressure because you really need to nail it this year. There’s no room for error.”

Sogar said her teammates inspire her in and out of the water.

“It’s a really cohesive group. There’s talent across classes, so it’s fun to have everyone working hard and pushing each other,” she said. “Freshmen are challenging the seniors, so we’re really excited to see the team come together.”

For all her victories in individual races, Sogar said the closeness of the team is what she cherishes most about her swimming experience at UT.

“The day-to-day is what I enjoy the most with these girls,” she said. “The girls on this team are my best friends. It really makes training enjoyable when you’re doing it with people close to you.”

Head coach Kim Brackin said both girls embody similar work ethics and serve as leaders for their peers.

“They both have that focus, that really driven sense of purpose when they’re here,” Brackin said. “I think they both have really high goals for themselves this year through NCAAs and at trials.”

Brackin said the challenge ahead is a matter of mentality as the girls compete for spots on the Olympic team.

“They do the little things right ­— both are doing all the right things physically,” she said. “The challenge for them will be mentally not beating themselves up, enjoying the ups and not taking the downs so seriously.”

Both will strive to finish off their collegiate seasons with more wins, records and shaved-off times before extending their skills at Olympic trials this summer.

Printed on, Tuesday February 14, 2012 as: Pair of Longhorns pursuing Olympic dreams

Diver Drew Livingston and swimmer Jackson Wilcox both collected two wins each on Friday in the Longhorns’ victories over Indiana and Michigan.

Texas defeated Michigan 160-140 and Indiana 181-119.

Wilcox and Michael McBroom finished one-two in both the 1000 and 500 freestyle races.

Cole Cragin won the 100 backstroke while Dax Hill was victorious in the 100 freestyle.

Livingston set a pool record at Indiana’s Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center with a score of 405.70 points in the 1-meter event and he also won the 3-meter event.

“He knows he can do so much better than that,” diving coach Matt Scoggin said. “That’s a positive sign in the right direction, to dive as well as he did.”

The 200 breaststroke helped the team take the lead with a one-two-three finish with Nick D’Innocenzo, Eric Friedland and Scott Spann.

Although the team won, head coach Eddie Reese sees room for improvement.

“We seemed to get better in the races at the 200-yard distances,” Reese said. “We weren’t very good in the 50s; like in the 200 medley relay. Otherwise, we’re right where we need to be this time of year.”

Reese was impressed with D’Innocenzo’s performance and the distance swimmers.

“Jackson Wilcox, Michael McBroom and Jim Robertson all did a really good job with their heavy load in the distance events, though we didn’t sprint well at all today,” Reese said.

Texas swimmer Laura Sogar was named <a href="www.collegeswimming.com"><em>CollegeSwimming.com</em></a>’s Division I swimmer of the week on Wednesday for her performance last weekend in a meet at California.

Sogar won the 100-meter backstroke in 1:00.97 and the 200-meter backstroke in 2:10.15, a new Texas record and the fastest time of the season in that event by nearly three seconds.

She also finished second in the 400-meter individual medley as the Longhorns defeated Cal in their season opener.

Sogar returns to the pool Oct. 29 when Texas travels to Bloomington, Ind., to face Michigan and Indiana in a dual meet.