TCU swimmers make case for Big 12 title pursuit

02/23/2014 8:09 PM

11/12/2014 3:58 PM

While the water at the Winter Olympics is much colder than the TCU swimming and diving team would like, they were certainly in tune with the Sochi Games in recent days.

To watch athletes who at one time were competing at the college level and have risen to the peak of their sport is truly an inspiration, sophomore Lyndsie Gibson said.

The inspiration can be channeled into the Big 12 Conference Swimming and Diving Championships, scheduled Tuesday through Saturday in Austin. It will give Gibson and junior men’s swimmer Cooper Robinson a good shot at an NCAA berth.

Robinson, a junior from Katy, returns to the conference meet as the reigning champion in the 200-yard backstroke with hopes of finishing on top in his second go-round.

“I feel like there is pressure there because some people are like, ‘Are you going to win again?’ ” Robinson said. “It’s not really about placement for me, but it’s about the time. I also like to just go out there have a good time and race.”

Texas features a few new faces in Robinson’s strongest event, TCU coach Richard Sybesma said, which certainly keeps the returning champ from being an overwhelming favorite in the event.

“It’ll be really great for him to race against them, because it will improve his opportunity to get to the NCAA Championships, which is his ultimate goal,” Sybesma said.

For Gibson, this year’s Big 12 meet, TCU’s second, will be her first crack in the conference after transferring from Arkansas and competing in the SEC Championships last year.

“I think every conference is different,” the sophomore from Southlake Carroll said. “Different teams, different standards and different times. For the Big 12, I’m just excited to get my name out there. I have pretty good placings and I’m really excited for my event and to see how TCU does as a total.”

Texas, the host school, remains the favorite to win the conference tournament, boasting a rich swimming pedigree.

Sybesma, however, believes if TCU takes the meet one event at a time, the Horned Frogs could make an argument for a team title.

“We can give them a run in different events and hopefully we can push ourselves up there to have a chance to run toward the team title,” he said.

With the men’s team placing second and the women’s third last year in the Big 12, Sybesma said the teams enter the competition with added confidence.

The intensity is raised, but that’s what makes the conference championship experience special, Gibson said.

“Conference is a time to shine,” she said. “It’s the meet of the season. While it is more pressure, it’s a lot more fun.”

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