Texas swimmers improve upon times at American Short Course Championships

Elijah Garcia, Sports Reporter

With many of Texas swimming and diving’s top athletes preparing for the NCAA Championships later this month, the American Short Course Championships provided the remaining Longhorns who won’t be there with a final chance to work on their times in a competitive setting this weekend at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.

Saturday began with the men’s 200-yard backstroke preliminaries, when sophomore Chris O’Connor started the day off with a first-place finish in his heat with a time of 1:41.98.

Junior Ethan Harder, freshman Nathan Quarterman and redshirt senior Colter Carman were the next three Longhorns to swim in the event. Harder took control of the heat with a sizable lead throughout the race, earning him first place and a new personal best. Harder finished with a time of 1:40.84, easily replacing his previous best of 1:44.35. 

Quarterman and Carman finished in second and fourth in their heats with times of 1:44.67 and 1:48.48, respectively. 

O’Connor and Harder finished in the top four, while Carman finished seventh in the championship final. O’Connor’s time of 1:40.47 earned him first and a new personal best, beating his previous record of 1:41.82. Harder finished in fourth with a time of 1:43.19, and Carman finished with a time of 1:46.77.

The men’s 100-yard freestyle followed shortly after, when seven Longhorns competed throughout the heats. Six out of the seven competing, sophomore Kayde Cross, freshman Jackson Huckabay, sophomore Victor Tremblay, freshman Marko Vujosevic, junior Trey Jackson and junior Brian Jiang all finished outside the top three in their heats. 

Tremblay and Jackson set personal bests, despite their finishes. Jackson crushed his previous best time of 50.20 with a time of 46.56. Tremblay finished with a time of 45.40, notching him just above his previous best of 45.53.

Freshman Kobe Ndebele finished second in his heat with a time of 43.69. Ndebele managed to improve his time and finish third in the final. Ndebele finished with a time of 43.48, improving on his time from the preliminary. 

Following the men’s 100-yard freestyle was the men’s 200-yard breaststroke preliminary round. Junior Paul DeGrado and freshman Adam Fusti-Molnar both competed in the same heat. Fusti-Molnar finished in fifth with a time of 1:58.67, while DeGrado finished just outside the top two in third with a time of 1:57.92.

The preliminary rounds ended with the men’s 200-yard butterfly, in which all of the five Longhorns competing managed top three finishes. Junior Sam Artmann, junior Cole Crane and freshman Holden Smith all competed in the same heat, finishing top three.

Artmann took first with a new personal best of 1:42.06, edging just past his previous best of 1:42.12. Crane finished second with a time of 1:45.12, while Smith finished in third with a time of 1:45.64.

Sophomore Ben Charles finished third in his heat with a time of 1:49.63. Charles also set a new personal best, taking down his previous record of 1:51.43, which he had set in early February. 

Sophomore Armando Vegas swam in the last heat and finished with a time of 1:44.53. Vegas also set a personal best, breaking his previous time of 1:45.88. Vegas built an early lead that only grew throughout the race, giving him a comfortable first-place finish.

Artmann, Crane and Vegas led another Texas sweep of the top three in the championship final for the 200-yard butterfly. Artmann finished in first with a time of 1:42.11. Crane finished close behind with a personal best time of 1:42.55, two seconds ahead of his previous best. Vegas also set a personal best, coming in third at 1:43.21, beating his previous time of 1:45.88.

For the Longhorns who competed this weekend, the American Short Course Championships marked the end of their seasons. Next up on the schedule is the NCAA Zone D Diving Championships in Madison, Wisconsin, which begin Monday, followed by the NCAA Championships in Atlanta, Georgia, beginning March 23.