COLUMBIA — The smell of chlorine, the cheers of fans and teammates, and the boom of the loudspeaker were back Friday afternoon at the Mizzou Aquatics Center as the Missouri swimming and diving teams held the ninth annual Show-Me Showdown.
This marks the ninth year of the Showdown, a competition that pits collegiate swimming teams from across the state against one another. The teams included Missouri, Drury, Lindenwood, Maryville, Missouri S&T, Missouri State, Truman State, Washington University and William Jewell.
The Missouri women won 11 of 13 events to win the title. With a score of 629.50, the Tigers sealed their ninth consecutive Showdown victory. The Missouri men won with a score of 673, led by sophomore swimmer Max Grodecki's first-place finishes in the 50 and 100 free.
Missouri swimming coach Greg Rhodenbaugh, in his fourth year at Missouri, said he enjoys the meet because his teams face schools outside of their normal competitors.
"It's just a great meet to just keep everybody in contact across all the different divisions of NCAA," Rhodenbaugh said. "Since I've been here, the meet's really picked up in terms of the competitiveness of it. It's fun to see all the different schools building up their programs for their divisions."
The Missouri swimming and diving program is also looking to build. Last year, both the men's and women's swimming teams finished 14th in the NCAA Championships, matching a program-best finish for the women from 2012 and setting a record for the men.
Although the teams were successful last season, Rhodenbaugh strives to continue moving up the NCAA rankings. That's a goal he has for both teams, but one he admits won't be easy.
"It's kind of like football when you get into the red zone," Rhodenbaugh said. "It's a whole lot harder to score and move the ball because everyone's jammed in there. Well, when you get into the top 20, it's harder to move. We've actually moved quite a bit in the top 20, but as you get closer to the top 10, it gets really hard."
Missouri faces tough competition this fall, with meets against Florida and Texas A&M. The Tigers face the fifth-ranked Gators at home Oct. 17 and travel to compete against the 17th-ranked Aggies on Nov. 1.
Despite difficult meets coming up, Rhodenbaugh is excited about the leadership he's seen on the men's and women's teams, which he believes will translate into success this season.
"Our upperclassmen have done a great job of leading the team this year," Rhodenbaugh said. "It's just fun to watch the evolution of the culture as it's grown into more of a championship culture. We talk about that: living a championship lifestyle. And it's just fun to watch the teams do that."
Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.