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Texas Women’s Swimming Success Goes Beyond The NCAA Season, Toward Olympic Stage

By Leah Jenk | Feb. 26, 2019, 5:18 p.m. (ET)

Madisyn Cox reacts after competing at the Swimming Winter National Championships on Nov. 29, 2018 in Greensboro, N.C.

 

Earlier this month the University of Texas announced its plans to build an outdoor swimming and diving center that will open next fall. The Longhorns will add this to the indoor Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, boasted as one of the fastest in the world with the pool’s depth, gutter system, high filtration and lane width.

“Championship caliber teams need a championship-caliber swimming center,” the school tweeted.

There is no denying Texas’ dedication to the swimming and diving program. And their teams have undoubtedly benefitted. 

Under coach Carol Capitani, the Texas women won their 21st straight dual meet a few weeks ago, dating back to the 2016-17 season. In doing so the Longhorns became the NCAA No. 1 seed, overtaking the two-time defending national champion Stanford women.

“Brick by brick, [Carol] has built the program back to national relevance,” said executive senior associate athletics director Chris Plonsky. “She was the right person, coach and leader at the right time.”

“The defining moment in my recruiting process was just Carol, she really empowers you,” said Texas alumna and U.S. national team swimmer Madisyn Cox.

Capitani was named Texas women’s swimming coach in April 2012 after she spent a total of 14 years at the University of Georgia in two different stints. 

“Building a program is about building people,” Capitani said. “And recruiting like-minded student-athletes who are interested in building something special is key.”

Coach Capitani and her student-athletes are indeed building something special. The Longhorns have five NCAA top-10 finishes in her seven years as coach. In March, Texas will host the NCAA national championship and the Longhorn women will look to win their first NCAA championship in 28 years.

“It’s going to be incredible to host NCAAs,” said senior Quinn Carrozza. “We’ve felt all season that it’s bigger than ourselves. The entire community will come out.”

“It’s a privilege we don’t want to waste,” added senior Olivia Anderson. “It’s extra motivation to defend our pool.”

While the NCAA season is the current focus for the team, many of the swimmers have international aspirations that are never an afterthought.

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Ten current student-athletes have competed for the U.S. or at a U.S. Olympic Team Trials, and two have competed internationally for other countries. 

“One of the biggest reasons I chose Texas was knowing most of my teammates would have the same swimming goals beyond college,” Anderson said of her recruiting process and competing at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming.

Many of the Longhorn women stay at Texas during the summer to continue training and traveling to national meets together. After the NCAA championship in March, they immediately transition from short course to long course training. 

“How we perform in the LC season is an integral part of our short course and NCAA success,” Capitani said. “The best kids have their eyes set on making national teams and competing for the U.S. in international competitions, and those goals are an integral part of our culture.”  

Cox, an eight-time All-American who has three short course world championship medals and two long course world medals, remains at Texas year-round to train under Coach Carol and is looking to make her third national team in 2019.

“Madisyn set the standard for Texas swimming,” Carrozza said. “We come in every day and see her working hard and it raises all of our levels.”

“The hardest part of turning professional is training with them but having to stay on the deck during the meets,” said Cox. “But I wouldn’t trade all the resources here for anything. I wouldn’t be on the national team without swimming at Texas.”

The national team connections at Texas extend into the diving well where Matt Scoggin has been coaching the Longhorns for 25 years. 

“Texas is all I know,” Scoggin said of his tenure at his alma mater. But it is his international experience that he uses to help his student-athletes excel.

An Olympic diver himself at the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992, Scoggin also coached at the Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games. In 2009 and 2010, he was named the National Diving Coach of the Year.

“The one thing I’ve always tried to do having an international background is sharing stories that relate to what they’re going through on every given day,” he says about his student-athletes. “Whatever struggle or challenge they’re going through there’s a good chance I went through it or have coached someone who went through it.”

Scoggin coached Laura Wilkinson, three-time Olympian and 2000 Olympic champion, during her time at Texas.

“She was my idol growing up,” said Texas senior Murphy Bromberg. Now Bromberg is a three-time All-American and an eight-time national champion who regularly competes on the world stage. 

“It’s a lot to balance,” Scoggin said on balancing collegiate diving with national team competitions. “First you recruit the right type of people who can balance the demands and their goals. Then I help with coordinating with USA Diving and their school counselors.”

In December, Bromberg won gold in both the women’s 3-meter synchro and 10-meter synchro and finished fourth in the individual 10-meter at the USA Diving Winter Trials. She returned to Texas and didn’t miss a beat in the collegiate season.

“Texas always has had the philosophy in sponsoring and investing in men’s and women’s sports where our best student-athletes would have a shot to make national and Olympic teams,” said Plonsky.
With the dedication of Texas Athletics and the talent they are training the Texas swimming and diving women are ones to watch on the road to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.