Texas, Texas A&M to face off in rivalry swimming and diving meet

Blanche Schaefer

Texas faces no ordinary opponent when it travels to College Station to take on rival Texas A&M on Friday.

Both teams’ early-season momentums add another dimension to the classic in-state rivalry. The No. 3 Longhorns enter their second meet of the season after sweeping Florida and Indiana in the season opener three weeks ago. No. 15 A&M is 4-0 and finished fourth at the NCAA Championships last season. Head coach Carol Capitani said the meet against A&M will test the Longhorns against tougher competition.

“We haven’t raced anybody real fast yet, so I don’t think we’ve been challenged,” Capitani said. “We match up pretty well [against A&M], but they have some holes and we have some holes.”

Since the season opener, Texas has trained for three weeks to fill those holes. Capitani said the team focuses on getting race-fit from September to November and then moves forward to specific training in December.

The team’s strength and stamina will play a key role against the Aggies. Physical exhaustion plagued junior Brynne Wong against Florida and Indiana. Wong said she’s been working on her strength and learning to “swim tired” to push through exhaustion. But swimming against the Aggies hypes up the Longhorns.

“The rivalry is so strong, which really helps us because they’re a good team that can push us,” Wong said. “This meet’s great because you could be so exhausted, but you get up on the blocks and you’re like, ‘Alright, let’s go!’”

Capitani said many of her swimmers grew up with the rivalry. Capitani and A&M head coach Steve Bultman also coached together at Georgia.

“There is some animosity between the teams, and hopefully it’s respectful and normal,” Capitani said. “I have a lot of respect for [Bultman]. He’s an Olympic coach who does an incredible job with his team, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to come away with a win.”

The Longhorns haven’t faced many challenges yet with only one meet under their belt. Although a win over A&M won’t come easy, Capitani feels Texas can rise to the occasion.

“When you challenge this team, the better your competition, the more you rise up to meet it,” Capitani said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how they can tune up from the last meet. We’re expecting some kids on our team to really stand up, and hopefully it doesn’t look like we have any holes.”