Arkansas opens the season Friday, Oct. 13, as the Lady Razorbacks travel to Columbia, S.C. to face Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina.
The University of Arkansas swimming and diving team returns a solid nucleus of athletes, looking to bring the program to championship status.
First year head coach Jeff Poppell inherits a program that has not been ranked in the top 25 in 15 years. He brings a wealth of coaching success at various levels and looks to build a strong collegiate program.
“Due to the small size of the team, our overall goal this year is focused on individual improvement and success,” declared Poppell. “We will be laying the groundwork for the future.”
Leading the Lady’Backs are team captains and seniors Kristen Thibodeaux and Mariann Fulop. Joining the 12 returning Lady’Backs are five newcomers including three freshman and two transfers.
Also new to the program is assistant coach Todd Mann. Mann comes from The Bolles School where he worked with Lady Razorback head coach Jeff Poppell as the senior assistant coach and assistant aquatics director.
Arkansas swimming and diving finished last season with a dual record of 1-7, finishing 9th in the SEC.
About South Carolina
The Gamecocks return 19, including all-American Christy Williams, and welcome nine newcomers. They are led by head coach Don Gibb who holds an all-time women’s coaching record of 22-34. In the 2005-06 season USC women finished 5-5.
Arkansas versus the Gamecocks
South Carolina leads the all-time series 7-2 and won the last meeting in 2003, 127-116.
In the 2005-06 season, sophomore Summer Jackson led the Lady Razorbacks in the 50 free, 100 free and the 100 fly. Her season-best times of 23.81 in the 50 free, 51.60 in the 100 free and 56.78 in the 100 fly were also the best on the team. She had nine first-place finishes her first year and finished in the top 10 in every regular season event she competed.
Mariann Fulop and Kristen Thibodeaux are the only seniors and were named captains of the 2006-07 squad. Fulop, a native of Budapest, Hungary, is a backstroke and individual medley specialist. Thibodeaux, from Spring, Texas, competes in the butterfly and the freestyle events.
Arkansas welcomes transfers Stephanie Carr and Katie McGraw to the team. Carr a Jacksonville, Fla. native was honorable mention all-America the past two years in the 1650 freestyle. She helped the University of Georgia to the 2005 NCAA Championship, the 2006 Southeastern Conference title and a 2006 NCAA runner-up finish. McGraw, from Keswick, Va., swam the past two seasons at Georgia Tech clocking a life-time best time of 24.16 in the 50 free.
The home opener
Arkansas hosts its home opener Nov. 4 against LSU.