Special: Seniors lead team in hard conference

With the season almost complete, resting and relaxing is the last thing the TCU swimming and diving team has on its mind. Senior Brent Norcross, who specializes in sprints and the backstroke, said this team does things a bit differently than the competition.

“We train and swim up until our conference meet at the end of the year,” Norcross said. “That is something most others don’t do.”

The conference tournament is on Feb. 22 in Oklahoma City. Norcross said that is when all the hard work will pay off.

“Overall we have been very good with our times and how fast we have been swimming,” he said. “It’s all going to culminate in about one month.”

Norcross and the rest of the team is expecting it to be a good culmination, based on the character of the team and the hard work the members have put in.

“We have a very cohesive group this year, with everyone getting along,” senior sprints swimmer Jennifer Antisdale said.

That cohesiveness has translated into success in the water. Head coach Richard Sybesma said the team’s accomplishments have been more than he could ask for.

“Not only are we right on track with where I expected us to be, but we may be even ahead of the track,” Sybesma said. “At the beginning of the season I thought we could vie for a championship. With the conference meet coming up in Oklahoma, I still feel that same way.”

Every loss for the men and women’s teams has come at the hands of a conference foe. In a Jan. 14 meet with Utah, the women lost by only 8 points, which is one race, to the undefeated Utes.

The Frogs continue to be anchored in the water by junior Erica Tate and senior Kelly McCain.

“Tate always performs real well for us,” Sybesma said. “McCain has been the athlete of the week several times this year for the Mountain West Conference, along with Tate.”

Norcross also stressed McCain’s importance to the team.

“McCain went to the NCAAs last year and seeing him gave us all a boost,” Norcross said. “His addition really brings us to the next level.”

Sybesma said the example put forth by these upper-classmen has paid dividends for Sybesma’s younger swimmers and divers.

“We have good quality leaders, especially seniors,” Sybesma said. “You can have seniors that are good swimmers, but that doesn’t mean they’re good leaders. I’ve got leaders in and out of the water. This is the best senior class I’ve ever had, based on leadership.”

Another key contributor for the Frogs has been junior Guillermo Ramirez. He swims the backstroke and competes in the sprints.

“Ramirez has really been a clutch swimmer for us this year,” Norcross said. “We know we can always rely on him.”

Norcross said the Frogs have turned to Ramirez and relied on him this year since the switch of conferences has brought tougher competition.

“We were a little surprised at how much different this conference was from Conference USA,” Norcross said. “This conference is definitely more elite. But we dominated Conference USA for four years, so we felt we belonged in a better conference.”

Norcross said competitiveness within the conference has been a blessing for the younger competitors on the team.

“They have a real advantage with them coming in their first year and this being such a competitive conference,” Norcross said. “We seniors had to adjust this year, being our last year. This year is their learning experience.”

Antisdale said she cannot think of a better team to be around in all of her years at TCU.

“Even though the Christmas training we did was hard, it was still really fun just being around everybody,” Antisdale said. “I love this team.