Mizzou swim and dive breaks records halfway through inconsistent season

The men’s and women’s teams saw brilliant individual performances during the first half of the swimming and diving season, but overall inconsistency hurt the Tigers against SEC competition.
Maneater File Photo

Missouri swim and dive has much to be proud of halfway through a grueling seven-month season: 10 all-time school records broken, three individuals with “A” and “B” NCAA cuts and competitive meets against tough Southeastern Conference opposition. However, inconsistency, by individuals and the teams as a whole, has been a recurring theme that’s plagued the Tigers over the past few months.

As of the most recent College Swimming Coaches Association of America swimming and diving rankings, last updated Nov. 9, the Mizzou men currently sit at No. 25 in the country, while the women are unranked. Within the SEC, seven men’s teams and nine women’s teams sit above Mizzou in these national rankings, which is indicative of the depth of the conference in the sport.

The Mizzou men currently hold a 3-1 (1-1 SEC) record and the women have a 1-3 (0-3 SEC) mark, showing inconsistent performances against conference opponents.

The teams’ records do not display the outstanding individual performances from Mizzou swimmers this season that are key to contending for an SEC championship.

Beginning with the most recent meet, the Mizzou Invite from Nov. 16-18, 10 Tigers broke school records to lead Mizzou to an easy first-place finish overall. Many of these record breakers are veteran members of the team who are finishing their collegiate careers off in style. Seniors Sharli Brady and Kira Zubar broke a combined four records, while juniors Mikel Schreuders, Alex Walton, Annie Ochitwa and Jacob Wielinski accounted for the rest of the individual school record times.

In a single meet, Mizzou showed dominance when all of its talent comes together at the same time, with both teams winning by hundreds of points over the second-place Drury men and Nebraska women. If the Tigers performed at the record-breaking level they did at the Mizzou Invite when they competed against SEC opponents Arkansas, South Carolina and Kentucky earlier this season, both teams may have had multiple SEC wins due to how close those losses were.

Several other Tigers have earned their NCAA “A” or “B” cuts. These “A” and “B” cuts are predetermined marks made by the NCAA for each swimming and diving event that athletes must reach to qualify for the 2018 NCAA championships.

At this point in the season, senior Hannah Stevens and sophomore Giovanny Lima have earned their “B” cuts in the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard freestyle, respectively. With this distinction, Stevens and Lima are not guaranteed a spot at the NCAA championships but will be awarded spots if not enough “A” cuts are reached by other swimmers around the country. Stevens was named to the 2017-18 USA Swimming National Team for the 100 back in the preseason.

As far as “A” cuts go, the only Tiger to reach the distinction in an individual event so far is Brady, for her Mizzou record time in the 400-yard individual medley at the Mizzou Invite. Brady continues to be the mark of consistency for Mizzou, winning events at every regular season meet thus far. The other “A” cut time was earned at the Mizzou Invite by the 800-yard freestyle relay team of Brady, Zubar, senior Erin Metzger-Seymour and junior Courtney Evensen.

Looking ahead to the winter season, Mizzou has more opportunities to prove itself against SEC opponents, beginning with the the Tennessee Diving Invite from Jan. 3-4 hosted by the University of Tennessee. The SEC championships take place from Feb. 14-18 in College Station, Texas, and the 2018 NCAA championships take place from March 21-24 in Minneapolis.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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