Feb. 18, 2006
COLUMBIA, Mo. -
With a successful dual season now in their wake, the Missouri men's and women swimming and diving teams are preparing to host the Big 12 Championships this week for the first time in the 10-year history of the conference.
"We have one of the fastest pools in the United States and this is a great opportunity to showcase it," Mizzou head coach Brian Hoffer said. "There is going to be some great competition here this week, and we're excited to welcome all the other Big 12 teams to our facility yet again."
The Mizzou men (5-3, 1-0 Big 12) come into the conference meet after posting its second straight winning dual record for the first time since 2000-01 and '01-02.
They are led by senior diver Evan Watters, the reigning Big 12 Diver of the Month, who finished the dual season undefeated on both boards in head-to-head competition (at the Shamrock Invite, which was scored as four dual meets but was run in an invite format, he placed in the top-three on both boards). Senior Chris Lukas will also play a huge role for the Tigers, having turned in a dual season in which he failed to lose in the 200 back (excluding the Shamrock Invite).
"The two teams that the men are up against are really fast, but we're going to do what we've been doing all season," Hoffer said. "We're going to battle and hopefully we can show people what kind of team we are. Our depth will pay off for us over the course of the meet. We're a very fit team and we're exciting to watch when we're swimming well."
The No. 25 Tiger women (6-2-1, 2-2-1) head into the championship season on an absolute tear. After beginning the season 0-2-1, the squad has ripped off six consecutive victories, including a 170-129 pasting of conference foe Nebraska in their last outing.
The team is led by senior co-captain Liz Schoborg and junior Shannon Hogan, both of whom set Mizzou Aquatics Center records against the Huskers, as well as freshman school-record holders Jill Granger and Lori Halvorson.
"Our women have really been on a roll late in the season," Hoffer said. "We really want to see them perform at a high level this week. If they do that as a team, the points will shake out in our favor. Our young talent, especially in the distance free, will really help us this week."
At last year's conference meet, in College Station, Texas, the Mizzou men scored a school-record 788 points en route to a third-place finish, while the women placed fifth. The Tiger men will be looking to finish higher than third for the first time in school history, while the women will aim for a spot in the top-three for the first time since 2002-03.
"We're a different team this year than we have been in the past," Hoffer said. "Our personnel is more suited for a championship situation than in past years. If we're a little weak in some events, I have confidence that we can still get someone in consoles."
The Big 12 Men's & Women's Swimming & Diving Championships will be held in the Mizzou Aquatics Center from Feb. 22-25. For adults, tickets are $5 for an individual session or $20 for an all-session pass. For students, a single-session pass costs $2 and an all-session pass costs $8. Doors will open one hour prior to the start of each session.
Fans and spectators are encouraged to park at the south entrance of Mizzou Arena during regular university hours (7 a.m.-5 p.m.) and take the University Shuttle Service from Champions Drive to Rollins Road.