Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Piper, Liebhold dive into World Championships

For Carly Piper, putting on a USA swimsuit never gets old. So far, the former UW swimmer has represented the USA in five major international competitions.

Now, the 6-foot-2 fifth-year senior is about to embark on her sixth international competition at the 2006 World Short Course Swimming Championships, which will be held this week in Shanghai, China.

"I'm excited," Piper said. "It is always nice to put on a suit that has the big USA on it. It is an indescribable feeling. Not only are you representing your country, but also yourself and [your] university."


Piper has seen a lot of success overseas. The Grosse Pointe, Mich., native has claimed two gold medals in foreign competition — one of which came at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The one thing lacking from Piper's international experience has been a Wisconsin teammate. But this year, things will be different for Piper as fellow UW fifth-year senior Tim Liebhold is scheduled to take part in the World Championships. Wisconsin coach Eric Hansen, who will be the head coach of the men's squad, will accompany both athletes.

"It is always nice to have another teammate and a coach there," Piper said. "They can speak up for you or help you out whenever you need them too."

"Having Carly and Eric there is only going to enhance the experience," Liebhold said. "I think I would swim well regardless if they were there or not; however, having two friends there that I can share the experience with will definitely enhance it."

Both athletes qualified for the world championships after producing impressive times in their respective events this summer. Piper was invited after she turned in a solid 10th-place performance in the 400-meter freestyle at the 2005 World Championships. She later placed second in the same event in a dual meet against Australia.

Liebhold made the team after he claimed his first national title by winning the 200-meter individual medley at the 2005 National Championships.

Having no international experience, Liebhold's invitation to the World Short Course Championships was aided by world record holder Michael Phelps, as well as a predominate freestyler, withdrawing from the meet.

"I had no expectations of making [the team], so when I found out, I was completely blown away," Liebhold said. "It was a complete shock and was not expected."

Also absent from this year's championship is American record holder Katie Hoff. Hoff was a member of the 2005 world champion 800-meter freestyle relay (an event in which Piper did not compete in at the '05 World Championships, but holds the world record in that event). In Hoff's absence, Piper is expected to resume her old position on the relay.

Piper is also scheduled to compete in the 800-meter freestyle, an event in which she was selected to compete in only a month ago.

"I am really looking forward to the competition," Piper said. "I also am hoping for some best times."

For Liebhold, he has also recently been notified that he may partake in the preliminaries of the 800-meter freestyle relay, something that he is also thrilled about.

"I'm really excited," he said. "If that relay wins a medal, then I'll get one too."

Though both athletes are pumped for the world championships, the road to get to Shanghai has not been a smooth one.

After running out of eligibility last year, both athletes chose to stay in Madison and train with the UW swim team while preparing for graduation in May.

Both athletes have been on an opposite schedule of the UW swim team and have had to swim many practices without a training partner or coach.

"It's been different," Piper said of her training situation. "It has been a difficult transition. It was really hard in the beginning, but since we are preparing for Worlds, it's getting better."

After the world championships, both swimmers are expected to take a brief break before resuming training with the UW swim team.

But for now, they are just looking forward to the meet at hand, and maybe a little fun as well.

"I'm looking forward to shopping," Piper said of her off-time plans. "I heard Shanghai has some great shops."

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