The men’s swimming and diving team are visiting the Lone Star State from today through Saturday for the University of Texas Swimming Invitational. The eighth-ranked Cardinal (1-0, Pac 12 1-0) will face stiff competition from five other schools including No. 7 USC and host No. 6 Texas, who is the four-time defending national champion.
The Cardinal have not competitively raced since the Triple Distance Meet with Cal three weeks ago. Before that, they made an appearance at an invitational at the University of the Pacific in early October. For head coach Ted Knapp, these large gaps are not ideal; however, he has tailored recent practices to try and remedy the lack of competitive swimming.
“We’ve done more race type sets in practice where we are asking for more speed,” Knapp said. “There have also been a couple practices where the swimmers have put on their racing suits to get them into the mindset of ‘I’m putting on my racing suit, so now it must be time to go.’”
Two winners from last year’s invitational return for the Cardinal. Junior Grant Shoults picked up wins in both the 1650-yard and 500-yard free events, while senior Abrahm Devine was the victor in the 200-yard IM. Other veterans to watch out for include junior True Sweetser in long distance freestyle events and senior sprinter Brad Zdroik.
As with any collegiate team, Stanford had to handle the losses of key seniors, and so far the freshman class have excelled at filling the gaps. “We knew that the freshman class was going to have some top-end contributors, and I am expecting to see that this week,” said Knapp. Two of these young stars are Jack LeVant and Daniel Roy. Both are members of Team USA, and they have also been selected to represent the United States at the World University Games in Italy next summer.
This week is the first time the freshmen will be racing in a full three-day invitational. Aside from the unique invitational format of preliminary races in the morning and finals in the evening, they will have to adapt to all the differences that come with traveling for a competition. The swimmers will be away from campus for almost a week in new hotels with different food and surrounded only be their teammates.
As a result, Stanford’s goal for this meet is to have the team soak up as much experience as possible over the next few days. Knapp explained, “It’s possible that everyone will be able to hit best times at the meet, but what we are really trying to do is get that racing experience. A big meet situation is hard to duplicate in practice, so I am really interested to see how well we race without having a lot of opportunities prior to this meet.”
After this meet, the team will switch their focus to academics and have reduced practices through finals. Swimmers will return to campus after Christmas to gear up for the winter dual-meet season, which starts at home on January 11 against University of the Pacific.
Preliminary races will begin at 8 a.m. PST each morning, while finals will start at 4 p.m. PST.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu