As a freshman, Austin Surhoff was Texas’ only individual winner and the top points scorer in the NCAA Championships, where the Longhorns captured their 10th NCAA title. After such a successful season, Surhoff looks to the future.
“I don’t want to be just a flash in the pan,” Surhoff said. “I want to be an impact swimmer in the NCAA for all four years that I am here. I feel like the pressure is on now so I have to respond to the pressure and keep getting better.”
He said that at the NCAA finals last year, he focused on finishing strong individually. But the promise of team success is what motivates him this year. Doing his best as part of them team will hopefully propel them to a championship.
A Maryland native, Surhoff’s parents come from athletic backgrounds — his dad, B.J., was a major league baseball player for 19 years and his mom, Polly, swam for the University of North Carolina.
“A lot of their philosophies and values were instilled by their athletic accomplishments,” Surhoff said. “A lot of their values came from their athletics so I had athletics-based values very early when I was a kid and I think that helped me. Being mentally prepared for swimming, I think that’s what they helped the most with.”
Surhoff says he misses his family as well as Baltimore Ravens football games, but being in Austin has made him a little less homesick. While visiting colleges, he felt Austin was a good fit for him because of the quality of the coaching staff and the University overall, he said.
He said that his teammates push him to do better both in and out of the pool.
“My roommate Cole Cragin — he is the one who keeps me in line and tells me when I’m being a doofus and stuff like that,” Surhoff said. “Guys like Bryan Collins are guys who push me to do better in practice. Last year, and this year even though he isn’t on the team, Ricky Berens pushed me a lot, too.”
Surhoff also said that head coach Eddie Reese is his coach and mentor.
“He knows everything that I need in the sport of swimming,” Surhoff said. “He sees a lot more in me than I could ever see
He has learned much since coming to Texas, and the coaching staff has helped him get better and become an NCAA champion.
“It took the base that I had in high school,” Surhoff said. “Everything was built up in high school and Texas took that rough product and polished it down to an NCAA champion my freshman year and hopefully more as I continue.”
Reese said that he is impressed by Surhoff’s leadership qualities and levelheadedness. But he said he expects the young swimmer to continue to improve.
“He had a great year last year and I’ve known he was real good all along and now he knows he’s real good,” Reese said. “He is going to be very difficult to beat.”
Looking ahead, Surhoff has ambitions to make it to the Olympics.
“Everybody that comes here [UT] wants to be an Olympian,” he said. “That is the ultimate long-term goal — to represent the United States in the Olympics.”