— UWBadgers.comcontributed to this report As the end of the semester approaches, the Badger men’s andwomen’s swimming and diving teams can look back at the first half of theirrespective seasons and label them as successful.Last weekend, the teams competed in their final calendarevent of 2007 at the annual Texas Invitational in Austin, Texas. The event isthe primary focus of the season’s first half, as it establishes the qualifiersfor next March’s NCAA championships.The men’s team earned five qualifying times while the womenracked up an impressive 24 qualifiers at the competition.”All in all, we’re really happy about our performance,” Universityof Wisconsin head coach Eric Hansen said. “This will provide great momentum aswe head into December and our training camp.”The meet capped off quality starts to the 2007-08 season forboth squads, as they kept their heads above water in one-on-one competition.The Badger women (5-1) are currently ranked 19th in the nation and the men’steam, at 3-3, hopes to break into the top 20 yet this season.October saw both teams start the schedule with 3-0 marks,aided by a pair of dominating performances over in-state rivals UW-Milwaukeeand UW-Green Bay in addition to a sweep of Big Ten rival Iowa.A road trip to the dusty Southwest in November, however,proved to be a challenge for the Badgers. They suffered losses at the hands ofthe No. 4 ranked Arizona Wildcats, with the men and women falling 172-116 and166-128, respectively.Despite the defeat, the women’s team returned to the Midwestand redeemed itself by winning the annual Northwestern Triangular, defeatingNotre Dame 218-151 and edging out host-team Northwestern 196-173. FreshmanMaggie Meyer was impressive at the meet, claiming an individual win in the100-yard backstroke and taking part in the 200-yard medley relay, where theBadgers also placed first.The men didn’t fare as well, falling hard to No. 5 Michiganand No. 18 Northwestern during the weekend’s competition.In Texas, the women continued their strong run.”The women swam really well today,” Hansen said after thesecond day of competition Dec. 1. “We have qualified several swimmers … so weare above and beyond where we thought we’d be (after today).”And there was still more to come, as the team tacked on anadditional nine qualifying times on its final day in Austin to finish with 24.Meyer — continuing her stellar year — took eight of those times individually,and was part of the 200-yard freestyle relay team that captured the Badgersonly “A” time of the meet — which gained them an automatic NCAA championship bid.Junior Scott Rice was the standout on the men’s side,claiming two of the team’s five qualifying times. Rice earned “B” times in boththe 100 and 200-yard butterfly events. In the process, he set a UW schoolrecord in the 200 with a time of 1:45.15, besting the previous mark, which heset last year, by nearly half a second.”I thought Scott Rice really highlighted the meet for us,”Hansen said.In individual performances throughout the year, KyleSorenson has proven to be an anchor once again for the men’s team. He nabbedfour wins in head-to-head competition in the 50 and 100-yard freestyles.Additionally, he garnered five first-place finishes while swimming for the 200and 400-yard relay teams.For the women, it’s been a mix of the old and the new thathas kept them in contention this year. Seniors Jackie Vavrek, a five-timeAll-American, and Katie Imhoff-Smith have teamed up with junior Jen Illescasand Meyer to produce a myriad of first place finishes in both individual andrelay competitions.With the season halfway done, UW hopes the second half willhopefully bring more success.2008 will first consist of a trip to Hawaii in January,followed by the Big Ten championship in February, and the NCAAs and the U.S.Diving Nationals in March and April.