TCU swimming and diving coach Richard Sybesma certainly understands the importance of every Big 12 meet.
It’s getting back to his roots.
Through his 35-year tenure at TCU, Sybesma has seen the Horned Frogs through the Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA, but most important, the Southwest Conference.
While TCU might be new to the Big 12, Sybesma is quick to point out that, as a program, TCU has already been successful against this level of competition.
“It’s neat to be in the Big 12, and it’s a big deal to be in the Big 12, but we’ve been there,” Sybesma said. “We’ve been in the Southwest Conference when it was a big deal.”
The past year has been an affirmation that the TCU swimming and diving team has returned to where it belongs.
For the first time in Sybesma’s time at the helm, the men’s team beat former Southwest Conference rival SMU last semester.
The women’s team is off to a 2-0 start in Big 12 competition after wins against Kansas and Iowa State.
West Virginia travels to Fort Worth Saturday for the first time as a Big 12 Conference rival for what Sybesma believes will be an exciting meet, beginning at 1 p.m.
“Well, we match pretty evenly with them, so it will be a matter of who is ready and who is on top that day,” he said. “We like those meets because that brings out the best in both teams.”
TCU is centered on junior Cooper Robinson, who ranks 17th in the nation in the 200 backstroke.
But the mantra Sybesma has preached to his athletes as they enter the meet is to be better than their opponent. If Sybesma’s third-best swimmer can beat West Virginia’s, that individual has put the team as a whole in a better place to win than a few individual first-place finishes.
“If we can get everybody thinking as a team that fifth place is just as important as first place, then that’s what we work toward,” Sybesma said. “It’s all about the team.”
On Friday, TCU travels to Austin to take on another former Southwest Conference rival, Texas. The Longhorns men’s team is ranked No. 1; the women are fourth.
“This meet Saturday is important to us because it’s not just a meet, it’s a Big 12 meet.”