The senior-night festivities before Kansas University’s swimming meet against Iowa State on Friday night dripped with traditional pageantry — flowers, career recaps over the loudspeaker and applause.
Nearly everything else inside the pool proved far from conventional.
The Jayhawks and Cyclones swam only half of the 16-event program Friday night, with Kansas grasping a commanding 106-44 points lead at Robinson Natatorium. Both teams will resume action at 10 this morning to complete the two-day slate.
The meet’s non-traditional setup equates to postponing a baseball game in the bottom of the fifth inning, stopping a bowling meet after five frames, halting a tennis match with two sets left, and ... well, you get the idea.
The dual is unlike any other meet for either team. Nearly every event features races that don’t even exist on normal programs. And that’s just the way both head coaches planned it.
KU swim coach Clark Campbell and ISU coach Duane Sorenson came up with the idea years ago as a fun way to ease into the Big 12 Conference championships. The two-day meet marks the end of the regular season for both teams.
“We felt that in the best interests of their minds was to just do something that’s fun and different,” Campbell said. “We really don’t know what a lot of these times mean, which is OK. This meet is simply about racing.”
In fact, only the 200-yard medley relay to open the evening resembled something found on a normal swimming program.
In that race, KU’s Danielle Herrmann, Ashley Leidigh, Iuliia Kuzhil and Maria Mayrovich set the KU pool record with a time of 1:42.77.
“We challenged our medley relay early in the week to get the pool record, and they did it,” Campbell said. “It was a phenomenal swim.”
Herrmann, Leidigh and Mayrovich were among the nine seniors honors before the meet.
Aside from that 200 medley relay, however, everything looked different.
KU freshman Shannon Garlie, for example, won the 800 free — an event that normally would be the 1,650 free.
Herrmann swam the 50-yard backstroke and 100 IM instead of a 100-yard breaststroke and 200 IM.
And Leidigh swam a 150 butterfly instead of a customary 200 butterfly.
All three swimmers won their events anyway.
“Trying to put together a race that you really have no experience with, you don’t know how to go about it,” Leidigh said. “But our coach puts it in a good way: ‘Just go out and have fun.’”