Women’s swimming and diving team has a hunger for excellence

Samantha Halbach

The Texas women’s swimming and diving team opens the season this Friday with its annual Orange and White scrimmage.

Last season, the Longhorns won their second consecutive Big 12 Championship title, but had to settle for ninth in the NCAA Championships behind powerhouse teams such as Cal and Georgia. The team and head coach Carol Capitani, who swam for Cal and coached at Georgia, said being No. 9 this year will not suffice. They want to win. They are, as Capitani put it, “hungry.”

“They want to be good now; they have less patience than I do,” Capitani said. “Their enthusiasm is there, and they have a chip on their shoulder.”

The Longhorns lost five of their top swimmers this year, including Maren Taylor, two-time silver NCAA Championship medalist diver. In response, Texas has gained six more promising athletes: freshmen Sydney Couch (diver), Sammie Hashbarger, Bethany Leap, Rebecca Millard, Mimi Schneider and Sam Sutton.

Although some on the team are new to the caliber of a top-flight program, the coaches have been consistent in providing feedback and encouragement to further develop the women this season.

“We just want to be better. We want everyone to improve,” Capitani said. “Our staff looked over the results from two years ago, when I walked in here [for the first time as head coach] at this inter-squad meet. We have been swimming faster at practice than we had at that meet.”

Returning team members include 13-time All-American senior Sarah Denninghoff; sophomore Madisyn Cox, 2014 Team USA FINA Short Course World Championship member; and Tasija Karosas, 200-yard backstroke Big 12 champion and sophomore.

Texas has seven verbal commits for this upcoming year. Although they will not be officially confirmed until signing in November, Capitani said it will be one of the best classes Texas has signed so far. 

“Word is getting out, and people are beginning to believe in this [program], and representing Texas means a lot for the caliber of people we are recruiting,” Capitani said.