Nov. 15, 2011
By Sarah Thomsen
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- The top nine Colorado State swimmers and three divers are heading to Houston, Texas, for the three-day Phill Hansel Cougar Classic Invite, which begins Thursday.
The athletes will face preliminary events in the morning each day. In the evening, all the athletes who finish at the top of their respective events in the prelims will compete in the finals.
"We're sending our nine `best swimmers,' but really they're just the people who have done the work so far his year," Head Coach Woody Woodard said. "My expectation is to see them race competitively, whether that's positioning to place and qualify for the final swims, or whether that's lifetime bests. It depends to a varying degree on their level. First and foremost I tell them the same thing every time: `You go to a midseason meet and it's about night swims. You have to swim fast in the morning to make it back at night.'"
The invitational gathers teams from across the country, which are sizing up to be daunting opponents for the Rams.
"It's staunch competition for sure," Woodard said. "Texas A&M and Southern Methodist are I think formidable teams; when you throw into the mix Wyoming, Houston and Idaho, it's going to be no small task to make it back at night, especially because most of those teams will be travelling with their full complement of conference swimmers and we're not."
The Cougar Classic Invite will be a hint of what fans might see from the Rams at the 2012 Mountain West championships in February.
"It's a dry run for conference," Woodard said. "It will get them used to swimming three days in a row, competing in the morning and the night. Hopefully we'll discover how mentally tough they are. Whatever obstacles they have to overcome, I'm excited to see that group, that is already so tight, come together."
Quoting Head Coach Woody Woodard...
On the team's mood on the season so far, heading into the invite:
"They took the loss to Northern Arizona hard, as well they should. And equally we're not on deck together as a whole team until January for dual meets. That can be kind of taxing. On a whole they're pretty happy with where they are and where they're going."
On his feelings as to where the team is at this point in the season:
"I'm happy that we're moving forward. There have been some stumbles along the way but I think for the most part, the kids are buying into what we're doing. And we've definitely seen a progression in terms of their strength and their times respective to this point last year. Am I happy we're 2-5? Absolutely not."
On what the team has been doing to prepare for the invite:
"We're not going to fully shave and taper. They're just getting a little bit of rest just coming off weights this week to reduce the muscle fatigue. I'm really excited to see what we can do across the board, that all of our swims have the get up and go that we showed early in the season against Denver."