For one Longhorn, Short Course Championships provide opportunity for return

Elijah Perez

The American Short Course Championships, the final opportunity of the season for Texas swimmers to post qualifying times for the NCAA championships, culminated on Saturday. The three-day event proved to be a successful one for several Longhorn swimmers, both current and former.

The event brought out former UT swimmers and current Olympians Garrett Weber-Gale and Brendan Hansen. But the story of the weekend was centered around a current Horn who was looking to make a comeback. For sophomore Patrick Murphy, the weekend came as a chance to get back in the pool and compete again, after suffering a torn ligament in his foot nearly 2 months ago.

The Lyme, New Hampshire native entered the pool on Friday looking to build off of a solid second-year performance that was cut short by injury and finish the year strongly. Friday’s event, the 100-yard backstroke, set the tone of the weekend for Murphy.

Competing against a talented field of swimmers from No. 3 Stanford, No. 22 SMU, as well as fellow Longhorn Nick Allen, Murphy’s task was not an easy one. Still, Murphy prevailed, posting a winning time of 47.46, beating out Allen by over 2 seconds. Murphy continued his solid showing on Saturday by completing a sweep of the backstroke events. The 200-yard match saw Murphy beat out his nearest competitor by nearly a full second.

Fellow Longhorn Swimmers delivered impressive performances throughout the weekend as well.

Freshman Tripp Cooper won the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 47.08, improving upon his performance at the Big 12 Championships two weeks ago when he finished fourth with a time of 47.53.

Making a return to the Texas Swim Center, Weber-Gale showed a younger field of competitors the level of talent necessary to win 2 gold medals. The former Horn and current member of Longhorn Aquatics won the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:34.19. However, current Longhorns Kyle McNeilis and Matt Belecanech did not let the prestige of an Olympian stand in their way of strong performances, as the two finished second and third, with solid times of 1:35.79 and 1:36.64 respectively.

Saturday saw another former Horn and current Olympic deliver a masterful performance ahead of a younger crop of swimmers. Hansen finished the 200-yard breaststroke in a time of 1:54.13, a full four seconds ahead of his nearest competitors.

The final event left on the docket is the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, taking place March 22nd-24th in Federal Way, Washington.