Texas dominates Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships

Steve Helwick

Below the strings of pennants, the water furiously rippled in the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center on Saturday night. Fans from various colleges at the Big 12 Swimming and Diving Championships donned a myriad of colors in the audience, but the top of the podium was solely decked in burnt orange.

The Longhorns dominated the Big 12 Championship in both men’s and women’s divisions. The No. 1 men’s team won its 20th consecutive Big 12 title and 37th consecutive conference title under head coach Eddie Reese. The women’s team claimed its 14th Big 12 title in the 20 years of the conference’s existence.

Texas’ men finished with a score of 1,018, far ahead of second place West Virginia, who tallied 847 points. The women produced an even larger margin of victory, recording 1,043 points compared to runner-up Kansas’ 650.5 score.

The Longhorns won every event on a record-breaking night where four meet records, including one Big 12 record, were shattered.

Junior Clark Smith finished as one of the top men’s performers for Texas. Smith triumphed in the 1,650-yard freestyle, setting a new Big 12 record with a time of 14:31.29.

“I last swam the mile in 2008,” said Clark, who made his first appearance in the 1,650-yard freestyle during the meet. “I tried to be in the top eight going into the meet, but anywhere from 14:30 to 14:40 would’ve been good.”

Junior Jack Conger also broke a meet record in the 200-yard butterfly, clocking in at 1:40.57. Conger holds the American record for fastest time in the event, and now owns four of the top-five times in program history.

Junior Tasija Karosas shined for the women in the first event Saturday night, breaking a meet record in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:51.21. Her name is now attached to four of the top-seven times in the event in Texas Longhorns history.

“I kind of just went into it and I just told myself to enjoy it and enjoy the moment and enjoy the race, because this is what I train for every day and I love it,” Karosas said.

Texas women conquered the diving platform as well, sweeping the podium in the one-meter diving event. Senior Kristina Hoffmann, freshman Brooke Pospichal and freshman Sofia Rauzi all surpassed 60 points on at least one dive,finished with scores exceeding 250.

The divers will return to the pool on March 7 for the NCAA Zone “D” meets with a spot in the NCAA championships on the line. The women will compete for the NCAA title beginning March 16 and the men will try to defend their national title beginning March 23.