After an eventful offseason, the Longhorns are set to begin their season with the Orange-White meet on Thursday and Friday.
The men enter the season coming off their second consecutive NCAA title and No. 12 title overall in 2015–16. The team brings back several talented swimmers, including senior Jack Conger, junior Joseph Schooling and sophomore Tate Jackson. Conger and Schooling competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, where they earned golds in the 400x200-meter relay and 100-meter butterfly respectively.
Jackson said the team feels pressure to repeat as champions this season — but said it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“I think I would say it’s a good pressure,” Jackson said. “You know, the coaches always say that you’ve got to go into the season knowing that you kind of have a target on your back … It reminds us like ‘hey, there’s people out there trying to take our spot.”
The women’s team also has a chance to repeat — it looks for its fifth consecutive Big 12 championship this season. But the team has even higher
expectations for 2016–17.
“We want to be a top-5 team at the end of the season,” junior Mimi Schneider said. “For swimming, the end of the year matters most, so Big 12’s and NCAA’s are always the highlights of the year.”
The women return 13 Big 12 individual champions this season — along with a talented freshman class. They face a loaded schedule in 2016-17, headlined by a matchup with Stanford freshman Katie Ledecky, a five-time gold medalist.
The women’s team hits the pools on Thursday, while the men compete on Friday at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.
The Longhorns hope the tune-up meet helps them find their championship form before the regular season kicks off on Oct. 21.
“It does a really good job of setting us up to see where we are, give us time to race, and getting us in that meet mindset with a fun environment before there is a lot of pressure,” Schneider said.