Going to the NCAA Championship is nothing new for the Texas men’s swimming and diving team. Under 37-year head coach Eddie Reese, Texas has earned 28 top-three finishes and 10 NCAA team titles. The Longhorns also have more NCAA Championships and NCAA top-two finishes than any other men’s swimming and diving program in the country.
So far, the news out of this year’s NCAA Championships is no different. Many veterans to the Championships, this year held at the University of Iowa, are returning for their fourth and final national competition and are setting some impressive precedents.
The vets, along with their younger teammates, nearly accomplished a feat that had never been done. Texas was one event shy from opening the NCAA Championships with three consecutive event wins.
In the first finals event of the night, juniors Matt Ellis and John Murray, senior Kip Darmody and sophomore Jack Conger initially took second in the 200-freestyle relay. But after a disqualification of N.C. State, the Longhorns secured a first place finish in the 200-freestyle relay, marking Texas’ first NCAA title in the event since 1996.
In the second finals event, the 500-freestyle, sophomore Clark Smith took first, earning 20 points for his team, and becoming Texas’ first national champion in the event.
Although sophomore Will Licon broke his streak by taking second to Stanford’s David Nolan in the 200 IM, he still achieved a new record. Licon lowered his school record time in the event and more than held his own against Nolan, the senior American record holder in the 200 IM.
In the first and only diving finals event of the night, junior Cory Bowersox secured a sixth place finish on the one-meter springboard, giving him his third consecutive All-American finish in the event.
Although Texas didn’t make school history by opening the Championships with victories in the first three events, the Longhorns more than made up for it by making NCAA history.
The last time Texas won the 400-medley relay, it was with four future Olympic gold medalists. Last night, the Longhorns won with Darmody, freshman Joseph Schooling, Conger and Licon to set an NCAA record with a time of 3:01.23.
At the end of Thursday night’s sold-out NCAA Championship finals, Texas stood tall in first place with 171 points. The Longhorns will look to hold their standing until the end of the NCAA Championship on Saturday night.