Fall Newsletter 2020

Dear WETS,

Sorry for the delay in sending out our annual letter. 2020 has certainly been an interesting year for all of us and Texas swimming and diving for sure. We try to stay positive during these uncertain times. Thanks to you, our little organization blossomed with support last year to help support Longhorn swimming and diving, and we do hope you will support WETS again this season. Even the smallest amount means you care and support the greatest university and our swimmers, divers and coaches!
Our 45th annual WETS Banquet and FRANK ERWIN AWARDS has been postponed to the fall of 2021. We will have to honor both the ‘0s and the ‘1s!! Double the work for Darrell Fick and Ben Van Roekel, but with an extra year to recruit and a chance to jump in the outdoor pool, we are sure to have a great turnout! Even though we will not celebrate all the great accomplishments of the current Longhorn teams, we can certainly dream about what could have been in 2020, look back at 1980, 2000, 2010 and look forward to what 2021 will bring (maybe the Olympics).

Know someone who has made outstanding contributions to Longhorn Swimming and Diving? It is never too late to nominate worthy candidates for future Frank Erwin Awards. A list of former recipients and a nomination form and guidelines can be found here: https://www.wetswim.org/frank-erwin-awards/

The Eddie Reese Outdoor Pool is now a reality!! Eddie says: “It’s better than great and UT has done a magnificent job.” It’s been on the drawing board and funded several times… Thanks to Chris Del Conte and Jeff and Carol Heller for pushing this through and making this dream come true of our coaches and athletes. Check out this cool video produced by UT sports media:

We will send you WETS letters via email and will post this letter and news on our website throughout the year. If you are not on the Longhorn swim network email list or the T-Association list, then please contact me or Jill Sterkel () with a good email and snail mail address.

$$ WETS Dews are due $$

Thanks for helping Texas Swimming stay afloat. Please use our website www.WETSwim.org to pay your dues or send in your 2020-2021 donation to the address above. Do not send more than $100.00 (unless you are paying for banquet tickets) as big donations are still needed to help UT Swimming & Diving by donating to the Longhorn Foundation Excellence Fund or the new Eddie Reese Outdoor Pool. Don’t forget to check ‘swimming and diving’ when donating!!!

Our treasurer, $cott Mactier, reports that we are in good financial condition and have plenty of liquid assets to put on our postponed banquet, provide the team awards and Erwin plaques, print and mail this fun letter, website hosting and enough left over for a sizable donation to men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs where needed. We appreciate all the work Scott and his bride Karan are doing to help the organization! Our balance stands at $25,007.61. Your little splash of cash helps us promote UT Swimming and Diving, gives honor to our great past and helps the future of Burnt Orange Aquatics!

Here are our Top suggested ways to financially support Texas Swimming & Diving:

#1 WETS limit your contributions to WETS to no more than $100.00 so you can give where it truly counts.
#2 Texas Swimming and Diving through the Longhorn Foundation:
  1. Select Gift Designation: Athletics, Intercollegiate for Men and Women
  2. Further designate to: Outdoor Pool or Texas Men’s Swimming and Diving Legacy Fund.

    If you would like to donate to our scholarship support or our current top funding priority, the Outdoor Pool Facility… please contact Billy Humphries (), 512- 471-2433

    All your gifts are 100% tax deductible and every cent goes to support a current student-athlete making the same ripples you once made on the 40 Acres. We challenge you – UT Men’s & Women’s Swimming/Diving alumni – to have the highest participation percentage of all Longhorn sports. Any amount is helpful, and participation is crucial. We’re off to a great start!

    We appreciate your consideration in supporting Texas Swimming & Diving!

    Matt Scoggin is beginning his 26th season as the men’s and women’s head diving coach. Cannot brag enough about him. He sets such a great example for not only the divers, but the swimmers as well. Texas truly is a swimming and diving TEAM, and his leadership, dedication and cooperation is a big part of the Horns success since his years as an NCAA champ and Olympian under Mike Brown. Matt had an amazing 10 men and women divers qualify for the NCAA meet this year… Must be a record!

Diving News by Matt Scoggin

The Longhorn divers had a great conference meet and NCAA zone meet. At conference senior Grayson Campbell won 1m and was seeded first on 1m and second on 3m for NCAAs. Jordan Windle won 10m and 3m, setting his second NCAA record on 3m with 553 points and was seeded first on 3m and 10m and second on 1m at NCAAs. Jacob Cornish, Andrew Gawin Parigini and Andrew Harness helped with a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 finish on 3m and 1, 2, 3 finishes on 1m and 10m, and all five men qualified for NCAAs, and Jordan Windle was named conference diver of the meet and of the year.

Alison Gibson won 1m and was second on 3m for conference diver of the meet and year. And Jordan Skilken led a 1, 2, 3 finish on platform followed by Paola Pineda and Janie Boyle. At NCAA zones these four women went on to qualify for NCAAs along with sophomore teammate Morgan Menninger, giving the Longhorns 10 NCAA diving qualifiers for men and women. The divers along with their swimming teammates were primed to have very successful NCAAs. The day after we returned from zones, NCAAs were canceled. The team was so mature with how they handled this news. Although glorious moments were seized from them, they all knew that CV-19 was serious and that many people and their families were suffering from this virus all over the world. Meanwhile, Windle, Gibson and Texas ex Murphy Bromberg still had to do their best to prepare for the April World Cup. Between diving at various clubs around the country that were open and/or doing somersaults in their living rooms, they stayed as focused as possible, and then the World Cup was cancelled and then the Olympic trials and then the Tokyo games. Through all these cancellations and postponements, the divers and swimmers stayed strong and handled these disappointments with humility and grace. They finished school strong with one of the highest team GPAs ever maintained by our teams. Alison Gibson was then nominated by Texas and the Big 12 as NCAA women of the year after being awarded two NCAA post graduate scholarships and being named first team academic all-American.

After the spring semester finished, our pool remained closed through August 26th, so the majority of the team went back to their homes to train at community pools or club programs around the country that were still open. We are now all back on campus including our three new freshmen. Bridget O’Neil joins us from the Dallas area and is a two-time junior world team member and 2018 Youth Olympic Games bronze medalist on 3m. Brendan McCourt is the Pennsylvania state champion and junior national semifinalist, and Noah Duperre is the Ohio state champion and multiple time junior national champion and 1m senior national silver medalist. Our team is so excited to be back in our pool and training. Our goal is to get better every day and not worry about anything out of our control. They are all being diligent about protecting their fellow Longhorns by wearing masks and social distancing wherever they go. The divers are looking forward to continue helping their swimming teammates as much as possible.

I hope this finds all of the Texas ex swimmers and divers safe and healthy. I know you would be very proud of this swimming and diving team!


Women’s Swim Team News by Carol Capitani

Spring and summer training methods: We did our best to keep the kids who were in Austin training at an off-site pool, as the TSC did not open until the first day of school (Aug. 26th). We weren’t able to do doubles, but those who were with us consistently worked their way back into pretty good shape and we posted some solid LC times at mid-way through August at a socially distanced timing system in sort of meet. Mitch Dalton has been with us since the beginning of June and he is loving this team and Austin! I can’t wait for everyone to meet him in person. He brings a lot of strength, experience (having just been USA Swimming’s Nat. Jr. Team Director for five years), and enthusiasm to the program, and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead. I don’t know what the outlook is for the season, but we’re back in the water, preparing to compete at Conference, NCAAs or Olympic Trials if given the opportunity!

Look who’s on the 2020-2021 team: https://texassports.com/sports/womens-swimming-and-diving/roster

Thank you to ALL who have contributed to the Eddie Reese Outdoor Pool project! It is LIFE-CHANGING and we are more than grateful every day we’re here. The indoor pool’s tile project is near completion and come October we’ll hopefully be using both the indoor and outdoor pools.

2020 TEAM AWARDS (provided by WETS)
Leadership: Claire Adams, Most Improved: Bridget Semenuk & Kelly Pash
Most Improved Diver: Jordan Skilken, MVP: 2020 NCAA Team
Most Valuable Diver: Alison Gibson

Men’s Swim News by Wyatt Collins

We are just happy to be back on campus after being displaced from the TSC for the last five months. The new six square court is fantastic! The outdoor pool is wonderful. Training in the sun and being outdoors has been a welcome change, especially with everything the guys have gone through over the past few months.

As far as this season goes, the whole situation is still fluid. I’m not sure what this year will hold for us in terms of competitions, but I know whatever does happen, our guys will be ready! Our incoming class of 2020 has been ranked as the top class in the country! We have yet another incredibly talented and deep group of young men who will be Longhorns starting this fall. It’s led by a number of top-20 swimming recruits as well as the best diver in the country. If you want to read more about the class, here are some links:

2020 TEAM AWARDS (Provided by WETS)
Leadership: Ryan Harty, Spirited: Ryan Harty
Most Improved: Alvin Jiang & Preston Varozza
Most Improved Diver: Andrew Harness, Most Valuable Swimmer: Daniel Krueger
Most Valuable Diver: Jordan Windle

TSC News by Ann Nellis

The Big news is the outdoor pool and diving well are open and the athletes are training. The rest of the building is shut down due to the tiling project. … retiling the 32,000 square feet of deck space and general locker rooms.
Tiling project is moving along and looks amazing and should be completed by the end of September. Many past Longhorn swimmers played six square on the deck. We actually had a court set in burnt orange tile for them! Everyone is being very good at being careful as they are coming back. Please get the word out: We cannot have visitors (per athletics policy)… we have had to kick out many alumni from the construction zone and new pool. Looking forward to the day we can have a grand reveal and celebration of these huge projects.


If any of you have pictures, news or address changes; please send to WETS or email me . Jill Sterkel is keeping up with all email addresses and getting news out to all of us. Please let her know your email and mailing address so she can continue to build a great support base for Longhorn Swimming and Diving.

Jill recently reminisced about her swimming career and what it was like to be named CWSA female athlete of the year in 1981 in this podcast: https://www.collegiatewomensportsawards.com/podcasts/sterkel

Sad to report the passing of another Texas swimming legend, Nancy (Marter) Carter. She and her husband Tim were recipients of the Frank Erwin Award in 2016. Nancy was beautiful inside and out, and her enthusiasm at UT and beyond was contagious. She was a charter member of the UT women’s first teams after title IX and a member of the Bevo’s Babes supporting Tim and the men’s team as well. The Carter’s have been very generous to Texas Swimming and Diving with the creation of a scholarship recently to support the program. Please read the following story and keep Tim and the family in your thoughts and prayers. https://fortworthbusiness.com/culture/longtime-civic-leader-and-fashion-consultant-passes/?amp

Dr. Jim Willerson, one of the greatest and most loyal Longhorn swimmers has passed. He was loved by his teammates and an early recipient of the Frank Erwin Award in 1994. A scholarship in his name at UT has helped many athletes through the years. He certainly left his mark in this world as a legendary heart doctor. He was President Emeritus, Director of Cardiology Research, and Co-Director of the Cullen Cardiovascular Research Laboratories at the Texas Heart Institute (THI) at CHI St. Luke’s Health-Baylor St. Luke’s. He served as president of The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston from 2001-2008, and he recently retired as the Edward Randall III Professor of Internal Medicine at The UT Medical School at Houston. He held the Dunn Chair in Cardiology Research at THI, the Willerson/O’Quinn Chair at THI, the James T. Willerson, MD
Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Diseases at UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and The Institute of Molecular Medicine “IMM” at the University of U.T. Health Houston. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus at the University of Texas, Austin, and at the Baylor College of Medicine. Read more about Dr. Willerson’s life and the obituary here: https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/houston-tx/james-willerson-9369270

Congratulations Erica Hansen-Stebbins on your selection into the Longhorn Athletics Hall of Honor. A two-time U.S. Olympic team member and an NCAA individual champion and nine-time all-American during her three seasons at Texas, Erika Hansen-Stebbins helped the Longhorns claim back-to-back NCAA team championships in 1990 and 1991. A Barbara Jordan Scholarship Award recipient in 1992, Hansen-Stebbins earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas in 1993 and went on to receive her master’s degree in sport management from the University of Florida in 1995. She is married to Tim Stebbins, the head diving coach at UCLA, and the couple has two children, daughter Reilly and son Owen. https://texassports.com/news/2020/8/26/t-association-texas-athletics-announces-next-hall-of-honor-class.aspx#hansen Looking forward to celebrating with her this great honor when it is scheduled!

Let’s look back at the ‘0s. They were very good years for Longhorn Swimming and diving, and 2020 surely would have been magnificent as well!

1950 brought Skippy Browning, UT’s first NCAA champion to campus. This was also Tex Robertson and U.S. Olympian and national champ Eddie Gilberts final season on the forty acres.

1980: Texas finally broke SMU’s string of 27 SWC championships which ushered in a new era of success for UT Swimming and Diving. The women’s team came up just short of winning their first AIAW national title, finishing second. The men also finished in the runner up position. It was also the year of the Olympic boycott. Joan Pennington, Kim Linehan, Jill Sterkel, Kris Kirchner and William Paulus were selected for the USA roster after a delayed Olympic trials. William’s time in the 100 fly was more than a second faster than the first place finisher in Moscow, while Kim and Jill were tops in their respective events. Here is an interesting article about the 1980 boycott and the 2020 postponement. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/texas-sports-nation/general/article/Olympic-boycott-in-1980-provides-a-sense-of-15158881.php

1990: Both men’s and women’s teams capture NCAA titles!

2000: UT men capture their fourth NCAA team title

2010: UT men win another NCAA title. Eddie becomes the only coach to capture titles in four different decades.

2020: The #1 UT men’s team was loaded with talent, having qualified 24 swimmers and five divers before the 2020 NCAA meet was canceled due to the pandemic.

Mary Juarez is retiring. She has been the Men’s Swimming and Diving team’s administrative assistant for the last 29 years. Through each of these swimming and diving seasons Mary has been the key to day-to-day operations with responsibilities for arranging team travel, NCAA rules compliance, recruiting coordination, planning and implementation of team banquets and most importantly serving as “UT mom” to every team member. She is very deserving of the Frank Erwin Off-Deck Hero award in 2013. Always quick with a smile Mary has endeared herself to the men’s teams from past to the current generations of swimmers. The success of our teams over the past three-plus decades is most certainly due in great part to Mary Juarez. Mary says “I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with wonderful coaches, 2010 NCAA Champs student-athletes, parents, alumni and a whole group of loyal supporters. Looking forward to cheering the teams to victory from the stands.” We sure need to celebrate her hard work and dedication as soon as a gathering is allowed. We all wish Mary the very best!

Last week, actions to ensure financial stability were outlined and shared in Chris Del Conte’s Forty Acres Insider. “Although this is a challenging time, rest assured we will continue our work to best support current and former student-athletes. We appreciate your understanding as we navigate the uncertainty.” Good to see us having somewhat of a football season and a big opening day win at that!

I am sure most of you have heard the devastating news of swimming and diving programs being cut because of financial difficulty. Six Division I schools lose their swimming and diving teams so far this off-season; William & Mary, East Carolina, Connecticut, Boise State, Dartmouth and Iowa cut to ease the financial fallout from the COVID-19. Sure understand how difficult these decisions must be. Iowa is the host (at least for now) for the 2021 NCAA meet. Their athletic director announced their men’s and women’s programs will be eliminated after this season. There has been much talk about moving the meet to another location… just hope we get to have a meet in 2021. Let’s hope and pray and maybe just move it to Austin!!

Finally, I want to leave you with a few classic videos from my friend Tim Taylor, an avid Longhorn fan who puts out a ton of information before every football game. If you are a lover of Longhorn Football you might want to check out his site, www.AustinHornsFan.com, and subscribe to his email newsletter. The first video is a campus fly-over set to the Eyes of Texas. The other two are among my favorites from the “What Starts Here Changes the World” series, narrated by the legendary Texas Ex Walter Cronkite.

Swimcerely and Hook’em,
Bill Robertson