Vines leads pack in 400-yard individual medley, posts NCAA’s 10th fastest time

Liliana Hall

Freshman Braden Vines has come a long way since he placed fifth in the 400-yard individual medley against Texas’ top-20 SEC opponent Tennessee in November. In just three months, he has cut nearly 17 seconds off his time for the 400-yard IM, earning the green light to the NCAA Championship later this month.

At the conclusion of the third day of the Big 12 Championships held at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center, Texas closed out the night with 682 points. West Virginia fell behind by 106.5 points, placing Texas in first for two consecutive nights.

Vines stole the night by finishing with the 10th fastest NCAA time this year and a title for his performance in the 400-yard IM.

“Looking back to my time in November, I feel really good about my progress,” Vines said. “(Texas head coach) Eddie (Reese) has some new training stuff in the works so I am getting geared up for that as we close out the season.”

More than halfway through the 400-yard IM, Vines was nearly an entire lap ahead of his teammate sophomore JohnThomas Larson, finishing the A heat with a time of 3:42.55 — five seconds faster than Larson. This is Vines’ best time in the event thus far, but he still feels there is plenty of room for improvement.

“I see a lot of room for improvement on the front half of the race,” Vines said. “I think my focus will be a bit on butterfly, backstroke and then coming home strong with freestyle. But I think I have come a long way on this team and I feel really good going into NCAA’s later this month.”

As the Big 12 Championships comes to a close tomorrow night following the final events which will begin at 6 p.m., the fourth-ranked Longhorns are aiming for their 40th straight conference title. In addition, Vines is among two other freshmen that have titled this week for the first time, Daniel Krueger and Charles Scheinfeld.

“I am very proud of the season I have had so far,” Vines said. “I think I have handled it pretty well. It is definitely the best one yet.”