Haas sets new NCAA record, claims third title of his career in 500-yard freestyle

Liliana Hall

The fourth-ranked Longhorns are working towards their fifth-straight NCAA title and 15th overall this week at the 2019 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championship held at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. Texas has the largest contingent at this year’s NCAAs, with 20 swimmers who hold qualifying times following the Big 12 Championships last month.

At the conclusion of Wednesday’s events, Texas grabbed an NCAA, American and U.S. Open record in the 800-yard freestyle relay. Freshman Drew Kibler, sophomore Austin Katz and seniors Jeff Newkirk and Townley Haas set the world record with a time of 6:05.08, beating North Carolina State’s record time of 6:05.31 seconds from last year. Haas led Texas to its victory with a split time of 1:29.66 seconds after trailing behind NC State and the University of California-Berkeley for the majority of the race.

Texas kicked off Thursday night with a third place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay made up of Kibler, freshman Daniel Krueger, sophomore Jake Sannem and senior Tate Jackson. They fell behind California and NC State with a time of 1:15.11.

Despite the third place finish for Texas in the 200-yard freestyle relay, Haas covered some ground Thursday in the 500-yard freestyle. After being a body length ahead of sophomore Sean Grieshop from California and Walker Higgins from Georgia until the last leg, Haas finished in first with a time of 4:08.19 seconds, claiming his third 500-yard freestyle title of his career and a new NCAA record.

“I was trying to clear my mind as much as possible (before the race), and I wanted to get out there fast and see what would happen,” Haas said. “By the 350 or 400 (yard mark), I could definitely see (Grieshop) coming. I could feel it and it was pretty rough. But I feel pretty good. I think we all look really good.”

Haas is looking toward gaining his fourth consecutive NCAA title in the 200-yard freestyle on Friday. He would be the first swimmer ever to sweep the event four years in a row. However, as a team Texas, closed out the night in second place behind California by 24 points.

“A big thing I believe in is your body can do more than your mind thinks it can do so if you are able to put your mind out of your head, you can do way more than you think you can,” Haas said. “You have to push through it.”