With season’s goals set, Horns ready to meet expectations


Elisabeth Dillon

Texas men’s swimming and diving head coach Eddie Reese has guided the Longhorns to 33 consecutive conference championships and 10 national titles since taking over the program in 1978. Reese has acknowledged that he has pushed his team harder than usual this season with the 2012 London Olympics coming soon but the approach, which contributed to a pair of early-season losses, has paid dividends towards his team’s postseason success.

Elijah Perez

Entering his 34th year at UT, men’s swimming and diving head coach Eddie Reese set the same two goals for his team he makes during every preseason: perform well at the NCAA championships and win a conference title. Over the weekend, coach Reese was able to cross the latter off of his checklist.

With the addition of this past weekend’s Big 12 title, Reese has led his swimming and diving team to 33 consecutive conference titles, a streak going back to 1979 and the days of the Southwest Conference.

Though one season goal was met on Saturday, the year hasn’t been without its blemishes for the Longhorns. Reese points to an increased workload in preparation for the rigors of a season as presenting some of the difficulties the team has had to overcome.

“Being the training period before the Olympics, I’ve worked them harder, had more demanding workouts,” Reese said.

“In swimming, that tends to make you go slow for a while.”

Indeed, the team slowed a bit early on in the season, suffering losses against No. 4 Michigan in November and against No. 1 Arizona in January. Reese acknowledges that while these losses were unfortunate, they can be attributed to differing team approaches between programs.

“All colleges run their seasons differently,” Reese said. “Some will prepare for dual meets more than others. We don’t. If you want to beat us, just swim us before Feb. 1, because all we’re worried about is the end of the season.”

Coupled with this farsighted approach to the season, Reese acknowledges the leadership provided by upperclassmen on the squad as crucial for keeping the team on pace for a strong finish.

“You hear a lot of talk about team chemistry,” Reese said. “Coaches can’t really influence it a whole lot. Our team chemistry was good at the beginning and it’s been getting better ever since. Your upperclassmen are always the leaders in
that respect.”

When asked if he found difficulties to keep the team motivated to live up to the expectations that a national reputation for excellence can create, Reese points to the team’s desire to prove doubters wrong as a motivating force.

“We always want to do better than what we’re picked to do, and we’re pretty successful at that,” Reese said. “I think that’s just kind of the way the team is.”

As the Longhorns gear up for a run at their 11th national title, with the first 10 all coming during Reese’s tenure, the head coach feels confident in his squad, noting that the only thing they need to do to improve is to get more rest during this slower stretch in the season.

At the NCAA championships on March 23-25, opponents would be wise not to sleep on this Longhorn team.

“We’re really good,” Reese said. “We’ve kept it a secret, and we won’t keep it a secret then.”

The secret’s out. Reese’s season checklist is ready to be completed.

Printed on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 as: 33rd straight conference title proves Reese's long-term approach paying off