June 28, 2012
Outgoing Kansas senior captain Stephanie Payne made her final career swim count as she finished the second heat of the 200 fly with a 2:18.38 time at the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Omaha. Payne finished in third place for her heat and 87th overall.
Her time in the event on Thursday morning during preliminaries was not enough to advance her to semis later this evening, but it did stand as her second best time overall, falling just two seconds short of the 2:16.39 mark she earned at 2011 summer sectionals.
“I told myself before the meet whatever happens I will be happy with because I am celebrating my career,” Payne said after her race. “Just being here was really cool and it was a good last race.”
Payne who wrapped up her collegiate career at the Big 12 Championships in February had been training for Trials for the past four months, knowing that this week would be her last as a competitive swimmer.
“It’s been a great run and she has been such a big part of our program for four years,” KU head coach Clark Campbell said. “She was aggressive, she didn’t leave anything in the pool, and I could not be any more proud of her.”
The Derby product competed in her first trials event on Monday during the preliminaries of the 400 IM and finished with a time of 4:56.46 and in 67th place overall.
“This event was earlier than my 400 IM so I felt a little more rushed compared to Monday,” Payne explained. “But I definitely felt more comfortable because I have been here all week.”
Payne leaves the Kansas program having made her mark, as she is the school’s record holder in the 200 fly (1:59.07) and the 400 IM (4:11.94).
“She is definitely one of the more improved athletes we have had at the University of Kansas,” Campbell thought. “For her to go out like this and to have been a part of her career has really been a privilege (for me) as a head coach.”
As Payne and former KU swimmer Danielle Herrmann end their competitive careers, a pair of incoming Jayhawks are just beginning theirs. Houston, Texas native Chelsie Miller and Topeka, Kan., native Haley Molden will both be in action on Friday morning during preliminaries.
Miller will be competing in her third and final trials event, which will be the 200 breast, while Molden, a Washburn Rural graduate will toe the blocks for her first and only trials event during the 100 free.
“It is really interesting because we close a chapter on Danielle and Stephanie but this week we are opening a whole new chapter with Chelsie and Haley,” Coach Campbell explained. “Their plan is 2016 and this meet is all about making four years from now a lot more comfortable.”