02 Dec 2021 | 09:44 | Diving
DALLAS – University of Miami head swimming coach Andy Kershaw is no stranger to the Robson & Lindley Aquatics Center and Barr-McMillion Natatorium.
Every year possible since his arrival, Kershaw has made his return for the two-day event on the campus of Southern Methodist University – with eight Hurricanes swimmers and one diver in tow – and each time, he knows he’s in for a special treat.
“I love it. Ever since I was there as a coach, the SMU Classic has been one of my all-time favorite meets,” Kershaw said. “You talk to people in the sport who have been part of the meet and they say the same thing. It’s a special one to go to.”
Now in his ninth year at the helm in Coral Gables, Kershaw spent the previous decade on the Mustangs staff, including seven years as assistant coach and the final three years as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.
“For me personally, being able to go back to Dallas, where my daughter was raised, where my wife and I bought our first house, where we have some great, great friends…it’s always a special trip,” he said.
You talk to people in the sport who have been part of the meet and they say the same thing. It’s a special one to go to.
This year, the Hurricanes are part of a field that includes five teams that finished in the top 25 at the NCAA Championships a season ago, including Michigan, Louisville, Missouri and Arizona. The Hurricanes did not take part in last year’s SMU Classic, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event features top competition from around the country and features eight swimmers and one diver from each competing school. Each swimmer from each school can compete in up to three events per day, and events are contested in two heats, with one swimmer from each school in each heat. Divers compete on 1-meter and 3-meter springboard.
“It’s getting harder and harder to pick our eight swimmers, which is a great problem to have. I do have the benefit of having been to the meet every year since 2004, with the exception of last year, when they didn’t have it,” he said. “There’s a little bit of a learning curve to strategizing for this one, so we’re just trying to pick and choose our places where we can get the most points.
“We’re focused on giving the right people the right opportunities and as your team gets better and better, you have to leave people back where you know there would be great opportunities for them. That’s part of sport, but it’s still a hard decision.”
Kershaw had plenty to consider in selecting his roster after an impressive opening meet against FIU on Oct. 2. The Hurricanes saw impressive performances from a number of veteran, including redshirt sophomore Adrianna Cera, who picked up wins in the 500-yard freestyle and 1,000-yard freestyle, and fifth-year senior Carmen San Nicolas, who picked up wins in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle.
Not to be outdone, freshman Jacey Hinton impressed in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle, while fellow freshman Giulia Carvalho earned her first collegiate win the 100-yard butterfly.
“You have to look at it strictly from an analytical point of view,” Kershaw said. “You have to try to remove all emotion and try to figure out what’s the best thing for the team and the best lineup to put out there.”
Despite featuring only eight swimmers this weekend, Kershaw knows the depth of his roster will be crucial to any chances of success as the Hurricanes push through their fall schedule.
“The team understands, and we’ve talked to them about it – whether you’re physically at the meet or on the blocks, we’re all playing a role in the success we have,” he said. “Not just this meet but across the board. We might send four people to the blocks for a specific relay but we are all there, and we’ve all played a part in the success of that relay group.”
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