WVU Hosts TCU in First Big 12 Meet
The West Virginia University swimming and diving teams will make history this Friday evening at the WVU Natatorium when they host TCU in WVU’s first-ever Big 12 dual meet.
“As soon as it was confirmed that we were joining the Big 12, (TCU coach) Richard (Sybesma) approached me to get a home-and-home,” coach Vic Riggs says. “With both of us being new members, it starts a bit of a rivalry. We’ll be heading down there next year, and we’re real excited that they’ve made the commitment to come and dual us the first year and support our program.”
The meet is significant in that there is no requirement to participate in Big 12 dual meets throughout the regular season. As both teams are first-year members of the Big 12, it will allow the squads to get a feel of what the competition will be like at the Big 12 Championships.
“Our program prepares and trains different than their program, but it will be an opportunity for both programs to get a look at one another before the championships,” Riggs says. “We saw a few of them at Nationals, but ultimately we have the next six weeks to focus on what we need to do to compete at our highest level. TCU will give us a little opportunity to see that.”
Riggs has always been a proponent of sticking to a planned training regime, and not altering too off-course during dual meets. This plan allows the swimmers to be swimming at maximum effort during the NCAA qualifying meets.
“TCU was just on a training trip, so I’m sure travel will affect them, but we have to stay focused on what we’re doing and ultimately our goal is finishing well and winning events at Big 12s and NCAAs,” Riggs says. “We’re a very team orientated sport and dual meets are an aspect of that, but the bottom line is we need to make sure we’re doing what we can to get our kids to NCAAs.”
West Virginia recently returned from a two-week training trip in Key Largo, Fla., followed by a dual meet at Pitt last Saturday. Riggs believes this week has allowed the swimmers to get a little rest as they make final preparations for the Big 12 Championships.
“We’re switching into our speed phase with the Big 12 Championships being at the end of February and beginning of March,” Riggs explains. “We do get an extra week this year to make adjustments as the championships were a week earlier in the Big East.”
As the season is winding down, Riggs is looking for individuals to make strides and qualify for the NCAA Championships through the new system that was passed this past September. Instead of inviting individuals and relays as they have done in the past, the NCAA only will select from individual events.
The end result will be instead of inviting about 17 men for individual events, it will be about 30. On the women’s side the number will grow from around 30 to about 38.
“Rachael (Burnett) has already made the meet, knock on wood,” Riggs says. “She has three events that are ranked in the Top 15 in the country, so she will make the meet. Mandie (Nugent) is sitting in a good situation and we know she is going to have a great opportunity to make the meet over the next couple of weeks.
“If we can get an automatic qualifying standard in one of our relays and the other ones have “B” standards, then it will be an opportunity to take some new kids to the meet that may have not qualified otherwise. It will be much more of a team environment if we can get that goals accomplished.”
West Virginia and TCU will meet on Friday, Jan. 18, at 5 p.m., in the WVU Natatorium. Admission is free and the meet will be video streamed through WVUsports.com.