Kansas swimmers Chelsie Miller, Hannah Driscoll, Bryce Hinde and Lydia Pocisk suited up for their biggest meet of the season at the USA Winter Nationals and churned out season-best results.
Miller, a junior, finished third in the preliminary heat of the 400-yard IM, but surged back in the finals, swimming two seconds faster to receive the silver medal. Miller touched the wall with a time of 4:10.01, just .14 of a second behind the winner.
Miller placed 21st in the 1,650-yard freestyle in 16:34.48. Miller swam in the same heat as Stanford’s Katie Ledecky, the current American record-holder in the event. Ledecky out-swam her old American record, and Miller finished 1:21 behind her.
Miller’s times in both events pegged her as the fastest in the Big 12.
Driscoll, a freshman, finished the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 51.18. She finished 48th and swam the fastest time by a Jayhawk all season.
Hinde, a junior, cut nearly five seconds off her season-best time and finished 33rd overall in the 200-yard breaststroke at 2:16.54. Hinde’s time sits in the top-five swims in the conference and is getting close to her career best swim she had at the end of last season. Pocisk, a freshman, followed suit and finished 59th with a time of 2:19.10.
The four KU swimmers weren’t the only ones at the meet who have been coached by Clark Campbell. Former Jayhawk Danielle Herrmann made an appearance and finished in the top 10 in three events over the weekend. Herrmann swam at Kansas from 2005-09.
Back in the Robinson Natatorium, the rest of the Jayhawks competed in the Jayhawk Open — a meet where scores weren’t kept, but the times were competitive.
Sophomore Yulduz Kuchkarova’s 54.24 time narrowly missed the pool record in the 100-yard backstroke set by Sam Corea of Denver earlier in the season. Despite Corea holding the record with a time of 54.13, the poolside record board hasn’t been updated and still shows Iuliia Kuzhill’s old record of 55:12.
“I was really happy when I saw the 55 hanging up,” Kuchkarova said. “I was like ‘I went a 54! I beat it! Oh wait…’ I remembered the girl from Denver had gone faster, so I knew I didn’t really beat it.”
She wasn’t done. Kuchkarova still had the 200-yard version to go.
“Coach Jen (Fox) talked to me and told me I was ready for the 200 record, even though I didn’t think I was,” Kuchkarova said. “It gave me the courage and I just went for it.”
She didn’t just go for it, she succeeded, beating Kuzhill’s four-year-old pool record by half a second, etching her name into Kansas history with a 1:57.83 finish.
Several other Kansas swimmers chalked up season-best times as well.
Juniors Haley Molden and Laura Bilsborrow and freshman Madison Straight all finished with season-bests in the 500-yard freestyle, along with Molden winning the event.
Seniors Deanna Marks and Caroline Patterson, sophomore Gretchen Pocisk and freshman Anna Peirano also achieved season-best times in the 50-yard freestyle.
Kansas returns to competition on Jan. 10, 2015, at the UCLA/San Diego double-dual in Los Angeles.