Two Longhorns qualify for Rio in Olympic trials

Michael Shapiro

Two Longhorns etched their names onto the United States Olympic Team roster on Tuesday, with freshman Townley Haas and junior Jack Conger qualifying on day three of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming trials.

Both swimmers will be competing in 200-meter events, as Haas won the 200-meter freestyle and Conger placed third in the same event. Haas — a three-time NCAA champion — finished with a time of 1:45.66 seconds, while Conger finished his run at 1:45.77.

“It's just not that surprising, knowing how hard we work,” Haas said. “It's just incredible for me and all three of [the Texas swimmers] to be able to represent our school in the Olympics.”

Following the top-three finishes of Haas and Conger, Texas is now guaranteed a spot on the USA’s 4×200 meter freestyle for the eighth straight Olympics. Their qualifications for the team marked them Olympians No. 40 and No. 41 in the history of Texas swimming and diving.

“I know what kind of work they’ve been through,” Longhorns head coach Eddie Reese said. “When you’re at this level, everyone works hard, and they’re all talented. So, to make an Olympic team in this sport, it’s almost impossible.  When you do it, they don’t think much of it now, but maybe in 10 years it will hit them how difficult it was. It’s quite an accomplishment.”   

In addition to Haas and Conger, a number of other Longhorns competed in Tuesday’s trials. Junior Clark Smith earned sixth place in the 200-meter freestyle, while sophomore Jonathan Roberts finished eighth in the same race.

On the women’s side, junior Madisyn Cox had a strong showing, placing third in the 200-meter medley. She will compete in the finals on Wednesday, needing a top-two finish to secure a spot on the Olympic team.

“Madisyn is swimming freely and racing tough,” head coach Carol Capitani said. “She has put herself in a position to be in the hunt, and that’s all we’ve wanted from the start. Madisyn put together a complete race.”

Numerous Longhorns are still in shouting distance of making the Olympic team on both the men’s and women’s sides. Coverage of the trials will continue Wednesday at 10 a.m. on and NBC at 7 p.m.