KU ties easy to find

Current, future Jayhawks compete at meet

Sometimes, Kansas University swimming coach Clark Campbell searches the nation for top high school talent.

But sometimes, he looks is his own backyard.

At this weekend’s Roger Hill Invitational at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center, Campbell can watch three incoming freshmen while monitoring several current KU swimmers – making his job easier and, hopefully, helping the team.

Although NCAA rules prohibit the coach from talking to Ashley Leidigh, Jessica Brozek and Molly Brammer, he certainly can take notes on the three newcomers.

“What’s nice for Ashley, Molly and Jess is that they get to race against the college kids,” Campbell said. “I’m really impressed that they embraced staying at KU for the summer. It’s just a win-win for everybody.”

Sophomore Lindsay Herre is a KU swimmer who is swimming this summer for the Lawrence Aquahawks.

“It makes us close, because we bond in a totally different way,” Herre said.

Herre is a former member of the Kansas City Blazers, one of the teams competing at the invitational. Kendall Maytous, a recent Blue Valley North graduate and incoming KU freshman, also is a member of the team but is competing in a different event this weekend.

The fact that three of KU’s freshman swimmers are local products is more than a coincidence – it’s part of Campbell’s plan to hone home-grown talent.

“It’s nice that they want to be close to home,” Campbell said. “They know the school. They’re very familiar with it, but then they also develop.

Lawrence Aquahawks team members wave encouragement to a teammate swimming in the boys 400-meter medley relay during the Roger Hill Invitational. The second day of the three-day event was Saturday at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center.

“I’m not going to go out and recruit all international kids and have a quick fix,” Campbell said. “I’d rather take the kids that are local and develop them into national-level athletes.”

Leidigh, who already has beaten several Jayhawks in the girls open 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly, said she knew “about 90 percent of the team.”

“When I talk to them, they don’t really give me advice, because it’s not their job,” Leidigh, a recent Shawnee Mission North graduate, said of her new teammates. “They give me encouragement, and they’re there as a friend.”

One of her biggest supporters is Amy Gruber, a recent KU graduate and highly decorated senior sprinter. Leidigh has been tagged by Campbell as the heir apparent to fill in the colossal void left by Gruber’s departure.

“I feel I need to step it up for the team. I’m not going to replace her,” said Leidigh, who said Gruber was her role model. “I’m not as fast as her. I want to work toward it.”

Brozek joined the Aquahawks in June to get an early jump on competitive swimming after breaking most school records at Great Bend High.

“I’m just here to get better,” said Brozek. “The (Western Kansas Swim) club I came from is more of a recreational club, so this is a new experience.”

Brammer, a multiple Missouri state champion from Blue Springs, won the 200-meter individual medley Friday for Team Dolphins but did not compete Saturday.

The start time of today’s final session has been moved up an hour to 1 p.m. The event is slated to end around 4:30 p.m.