Despite losing Deanna Marks and Caroline Patterson to graduation, the Kansas swim and dive team is in good shape.
Excluding Marks, every swimmer who placed at the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships from last season returns to the Jayhawk squad, including senior Chelsie Miller.
Miller, Kansas’ only individual Big 12 champion, currently holds five school records and recently swam an Olympic Trials cut. The other current Kansas record holder is senior Bryce Hinde.
Three others, Yulduz Kuchkarova, Hannah Angell and Lydia Pocisk, swam their way onto the all-time top-five charts in five different events last season. Kuchkarova is not only close to holding records at Kansas but is the current Uzbekistani national record holder in the 50-meter backstroke and 100-meter backstroke.
With every new season comes new faces, and this year is no different, as Kansas adds five freshmen and one sophomore to the roster.
Breonna Barker, a freshman sprint freestyler, comes to Kansas from Broken Arrow, Okla. She earned four straight state titles in the 100-yard freestyle throughout her four seasons and won three straight state titles in the 50-yard freestyle during her last three seasons.
Haley Bishop, a freshman jack-of-all-trades, is from Apex, N.C. She’s the current record holder at Panther Creek High School in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard individual medley and the 200-yard freestyle relay.
Cassaundra Pino, a freshman freestyle and butterfly specialist from Albuquerque, N.M., won three straight state championships in the 100-yard butterfly, setting the New Mexico statewide high school record in that event her senior year. She also won the 200-yard freestyle at the state meet during her junior season.
The other two freshmen are Taylor Sieperda and Libby Walker. Sieperda, a medley swimmer from Spirit Lake, Iowa, holds records in the 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard medley at Spencer High School in Iowa, whereas, Walker, who is from Columbia, Mo., is a two-time sectional champion in the 1,650-yard freestyle and won the distance high-point award three times at sectionals.
In Walker’s sectionals division, she swam against athletes from Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin. This summer, Walker swam a time fast enough for her to compete at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., next summer.
Finally, Kansas added sophomore transfer Briana Balsough from San Diego State. In high school, Balsough was named the Top Female Athlete at West Linn High School in West Linn, Ore., and holds both high school and conference records in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke.
— Edited by Kate Miller