Photo of Haley Bishop (left) and Libby Walker (right) courtesy of University of Kansas, Lone Star Lake, Lawrence, Kansas.

While the University of Kansas has enjoyed a long successful history in collegiate basketball and track and field, swimming has rarely come to the surface at the institution of over 28,000 students.

Over its history in intercollegiate athletics, Kansas has won 13 dryland-based National Championships: 5 in basketball, 3 in indoor track and field, 4 in outdoor track and field, and 1 in cross country.

But history was made yesterday at the inaugural College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) National Collegiate Open Water Championship at Lone Star Lake. Since 1898, Kansas won its first swimming national championship.

While pundits lauded University of Kansas sophomore Libby Walker as the pre-race favorite in the 5 km CSCAA National Collegiate Open Water Championship, they had overlooked her teammate Haley Bishop.

The race between the University of Kansas sophomores was so close that it took an official review of the finish photos and video to determine the winners. Teammates could not get any closer. The official determination was that the pair were declared dual national champions and share the individual title at the 2016 CSCAA National Collegiate Open Water Championship. Their freshman teammate Jenny Nusbaum made a late charge to give the University of Kansas a 1-2-3 sweep and bring the inaugural collegiate championship to the host university.

For the Jayhawks, the podium sweep and national title was a perfect culmination to all the hard work and dedication of the athletes, coaches and administrators who saw the initial vision turn into a competitive reality.

Kansas head coach Clark Campbell orchestrated the CSCAA event from concept to conclusion. The event featured 35 female competitors representing 10 schools and 33 male swimmers from 8 institutions.

It was beyond expectation,” Campbell said. “I figured we would be in the hunt and be very competitive, but to go one-two-three like that against Cincinnati and Rice, who have some very good open water swimmers. For us to be able to compete like that and use the course to our advantage and race the way we did this early, I couldn’t be more proud.”

It’s the coolest thing ever, to have two Jayhawks up there and we had Jenny as well, who had an incredible finish,” said Walker. “It’s just really cool to get to share it with these girls because we trained really hard for this, it was a lot of effort put in by everyone.”

Kansas swept the top three spots and team championship in a cumulative time of 3 hours 17 minutes 20 seconds, finishing ahead of second-place Rice University whose top three competitors combined for a time of 3 hours 20 minutes 24 seconds.

Seven-time women’s world marathon champion Shelley Taylor-Smith, formerly of the University of Arkansas, presented the awards and addressed the competitors at the event. Several participants, while accomplished in the pool, were competing for the first time in the open water. “It was really exciting to see. I spoke to competitors and asked them how was it today, and they went, ‘You know, it hurt,’ but then they smiled and said it was quite enjoyable and fun. That’s what it’s about, because it is a different experience. There is no black line, so you’re really dealing mostly with your head. The mindset is what’s paramount in open water swimming.

It’s not necessarily distance swimmers who are going to excel in open water. It was great to see Haley [Bishop] who’s a 50-yard freestyler and 100 flyer from Kansas dead-heated with a 1,650-yard swimmer at Kansas at 5,000 meters. I got excited about that one. I don’t know if she’s excited yet because she’s wondering what Clark Campbell going to pop her up for now.

It was really nice to see the camaraderie between the teams. A lot of people say swimming is a solo sport, but I really believe that it’s a team sport and when you see the teammates that aren’t competing come down, it makes for a great event. This is the impetus that needs to go forward for the NCAA.”

5 km National Collegiate Championship results:
1. Libby Walker (University of Kansas) and Haley Bishop (University of Kansas) 1:05:48.32
3. Jenny Nusbaum (University of Kansas) 1:05:48.85
4. Hanna Huston (Rice University) 1:05:50.08
5. Sarah Nowaski (Rice University) 1:06:22.30
6. Leah Allen (Carson-Newman Universities) 1:06:38.73
7. Rocky Laabs (University of Cincinnati) 1:07:20.62
8. Breonna Barker (University of Kansas) 1:07:33.22
9. Claire Therien (Rice University) 1:08:12.22
10. Sara Wanasek (University of Cincinnati) 1:08:51.47
11. Cassidy Heaton (Univeristy of Alaska-Fairbanks) 1:09:02.79
12. Sydney Franzen (Rice University) 1:09:09.56
13. Laura Johnston (University of Cincinnati) 1:09:11.70
14. Mina Glenesk (Saint Louis) 1:09:14.54
15. Caroline Sheehan (University of Cincinnati) 1:09:59.91
16. Sierra Kinworthy (Univeristy of Alaska-Fairbanks) 1:10:00.77
17. Regina Zipperer (Carson-Newman Universities) 1:10:25.00
18. Olivia Wanasek (Saint Louis) 1:10:46.90
19. Margaret Stansberry (Carson-Newman Universities) 1:11:01.59
20. Cassaundra Pino (University of Kansas) 1:11:27.78
21. Lexy Raybon Carson-Newman Universities) 1:11:40.68
22. Juana Mafla (Oklahoma Baptist University) 1:11:46.01
23. Miriam Avila Martinez (Oklahoma Baptist University) 1:12:33.28
24. Smith, Nancy Carson-Newman Universities) 1:12:35.25
25. Suzanne Afchain (Oklahoma Baptist University) 1:12:52.80
26. Amanda Buckwalter (Oklahoma Baptist University) 1:12:57.99
27. Elaine Mahon (Saint Louis) 1:13:49.49
28. Mia Wood (Colorado School of Mines) 1:14:42.03
29. Carrie Kralovec (Colorado School of Mines) 1:14:42.23
30. Kiana Albert (University of North Florida) 1:15:04.09
31. Shelby Panter (University of North Florida) 1:16:09.76
32. Faith Moss (Oklahoma Baptist University) 1:16:54.77
33. Carleigh Sullivan (Oklahoma Baptist University) 1:19:06.04
34. Ane Edwards (Ohio Weslyan University) 1:19:34.84
35. Hana Knaebel (Colorado School of Mines) 1:22:07.43

Team Results:
1. University of Kansas: 3:17:20.99 (Libby Walker; Haley Bishop; Jenny Nusbaum)
2. Rice University: 3:20:24.06 (Hanna Huston; Sarah Nowaski; Claire Therien)
3. University of Cincinnati: 3:25:23.75 (Laabs, Rocky; Wanasek, Sara; Johnston, Laura)
4. Carson-Newman Universities: 3:28:09.32 (Leah Allen; Regina Zipperer; Margaret Stansberry)
5. Saint Louis: 3:33:50.93 (Mina Glenesk; Olivia Wanasek; Elaine Mahon)
6. Oklahoma Baptist University A: 3:37:12.09 (Juana Mafla; Miriam Avila Martinez; Suzanne Afchain)
7. Oklahoma Baptist University B: 3:48:58.80 (Amanda Buckwalter; Faith Moss; Carleigh Sullivan)
8. Colorado School of Mines: 3:51:11.49 (Mia Wood; Carrie Kralovec; Hana Knaebel)

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