Houston Hosts 2013 Conference USA Swimming & Diving Championships
HOUSTON - The University of Houston will serve as host for the 2013 Conference USA Swimming and Diving Championships (Feb. 20-23) at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center Natatorium. Houston will compete against East Carolina, Marshall, Rice, SMU and Tulane as their 10th and final year as the host for the championship event.
The meet begins Wednesday evening at 2 p.m. with the men's diving prelims but the racing kicks off at 6 p.m. that night with the 200-yard medley relay. The format for the rest of the weekend follows with morning prelim events lasting from 10 a.m.- 2p.m. (Thursday - Saturday) and the evening finals starting at 6 p.m.
FOX Sports will televise the event on tape delay with a broadcast schedule released at a later time.
This will be the second year for head swimming coach Augie Busch to witness his team's training culminate in the conference championships.
"Our team looks great right now and they all want to get out there and start competing," said Busch. "It's the best they've looked since I've been here. We've been doing some really fast training over the past week, and they look like they're ready to race. It doesn't guarantee us anything but it's certainly a welcome sign.
"There's definitely a vibe going around the team this week that the Championships are here. I think they feel this will be their best meet of the year, and we had a pretty good invite back in the fall. So if we can improve upon that, and I really think we will, then it is set up for a great week for us."
Houston has finished in fourth place at the conference championships the past two years and return the majority of point-scorers from last year's squad.
Included in the list of returners are the 2012 C-USA Diver of the Year (Julia Lonnegren) and the 2012 Freshman Diver of the Year (Natasha Burgess). The duo took the top-two spots in all three diving events last year with Lonnegren claiming all three event titles. This year they hold the top-two places among their C-USA foes in the 1M and 3M, while freshman Danielle Shedd is sandwiched between the veterans in the platform. Shedd ranks No. 3 (3m) and No. 4 (1M) in her rookie campaign.
Senior Reka Kovacs heads into the championship week ranking No. 2 among the conference in the three events she will swim in (200 Breast, 200/400 IM). Kovacs earned three top-eight finishes last year to finish as the individual leader in points among the UH swimmers.
Kimmy Ballo has also turned in a strong senior campaign as she enters the week ranked among the top eight in her three scheduled swims (No. 4, 500 Free; No 8, 200 Free, No 3, 200 Back).
Heather Winn, Houston's top distance freestyler, is the No. 1 seed in the mile-free (16:48.99), No. 3 in the 500 free (4:53.94) and No. 7 seed in the 200 free (1:50.65).
Ticket prices for the Championship are $10/15 per day for youth/adult and $25/35 for all-session passes while admission for Conference USA students is free with valid ID.