MU swimmers reign in January

Although one MU swimmer ends her career, another is beginning to make his mark on the record books. Both were honored as January's Big 12 Swimmers of the Month.

The conference coaches named senior Lori Sibbers and freshman teammate Mike Tucker to receive the honor. This is only the second time the Big 12 has named swimmers of the month. The first pair was named in December.

Although the two swimmers share the honor, they differ in many ways.

Sibbers is at the end of her collegiate career while Tucker is just beginning. She learned how to balance classes and practice a couple of years ago. Tucker is still learning to adjust to the seven-month season versus the three-month season of high school competition.

"It's made it a lot more difficult to juggle all that," he said. However, he still manages to fit in everything.

Swimming has been a part of Tucker's life since he was about seven. Sibbers, a senior from Rochester, Minn., has been swimming since she was three.

"My mom and grandpa taught me how to swim," she said.

She joined a swim club when she was five, but two years later her mother pulled her, her older brother and sister from the club because of a conflict with the coach. For the next 11 years the three competed in their club, the Independent Rochester Swimmers, with their mother as coach.

Sibbers said she hasn't conflicted with her coach at MU" in fact, it's been quite the opposite. Sibbers said coach Brian Hoffer was a primary factor in her decision to swim for MU.

"I got along really well with Brian," she said.

Tucker also said Hoffer influenced his decision to attend MU.

"My visit here was a lot of fun," Tucker said. "There's no use in coming here if you're not going to have fun."

Sibbers and Tucker both were surprised when they learned they had received the award. "I just heard about it [Monday]," Sibbers said.

While the senior has done many things during her college career to merit the honor, including being on five school-record-holding relay teams, Tucker lacks the same experience.

"I didn't know I had done anything that outstanding to earn it," Tucker said.

He might not see his achievements as outstanding, but so far he has bested the school record in the 200-yard breaststroke by almost 2 seconds with a mark of 2:01.68. He now qualifies for NCAA consideration in the event. He also owns the second-fastest time in school history in the 100-yard breaststroke. Both marks occurred at the Miami (Ohio) Invitational in early December.

Although Tucker is young, it is not unusual for him to be honored, said Brad Clements, assistant director of media relations for the Big 12. The male swimmer for December also was a freshman.

"Youth rules right now," Clements said.

But the freshmen don't hold a monopoly on achievement.

Sibbers will conclude her career at MU with a splash. She is a double winner in three of the four dual meets this season, and she captured the 50-yard freestyle at the Miami Invitational. Sibbers also placed second in the 100-yard freestyle, fourth in the 200-yard freestyle and sixth in the 100-yard butterfly.

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