KNOXVILLE, TN – The third-ranked University of Texas men’s swimming & diving team handed No. 6 Tennessee its first dual-meet loss at home in nine years, 124-119, Saturday night before a crowd of 1,200 at the Student Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tenn. It was the Volunteers’ first home loss since Florida defeated Tennessee, 120-97, in 1988.
The Longhorns (3-1, 0-0 Big 12), now 2-11 all-time against the Vols (3-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference), claimed wins in seven of 13 events, including victories in the 50-yard freestyle, 200-yard butterfly and both diving springboards.
Freshman Nate Dusing (Villa Hills, Ky.), senior Neil Walker (Verona, Wis.), and junior Ryan Harmon (San Antonio, Texas) were the only Texas competitors to win individual events, as each won two apiece.
Dusing was impressive in the 200-yard butterfly (1:47.25) and the 200-yard individual medley (1:50.17), winning both events with NCAA consideration marks. Walker swept the 50-yard freestyle (20.26) and the 100-yard freestyle (44.28), also meeting NCAA consideration standards in each event. Harmon claimed victories on the one-meter springboard (327.52) and the three-meter springboard (337.50), keeping the Longhorns’ undefeated dual-meet diving record intact at four meets.
The Longhorns trailed 96-92 with just three events remaining, but Harmon’s victory on the three-meter springboard, coupled with a third-place finish by freshman Grant Gritzmacher (Essex, Conn.) gave Texas a 106-101 lead. Tennessee then tied the meet, 113-113, after the 200-yard breaststroke, as Volunteer Jeremy Linn claimed first (2:01.22) and Tom Williams touched in third place (2:06.06).
The Longhorns trailed the Volunteers entering the final leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay, but Walker, the NCAA record holder in the 50-yard freestyle, came from behind to out-touch Tennessee’s Adam Engle. Texas won the relay with a time of 2:57.94, an NCAA consideration mark, while the Volunteers finished second at 2:58.73.
“It was most exciting with it going down to the final free relay,” said swimming assistant coach Kris Kubik. “Neil Walker had said that as a senior he wanted to be in that leadership position. He said that he had fantasized about being behind in a meet and swimming the final leg of relay to win it for Texas. Fortunately we were able to get in that position – in large part because of our divers who were amazing – after rallying in the second half of the meet. It was great racing and it was fun to have that many people at a meet.”
Head Coach Eddie Reese did not accompany the team to Tennessee, as his daughter, Heather, was married Saturday night in Austin.
The men’s swimming & diving team will wrap up its fall season as the host of the Texas Invitational on Friday-Sunday, Dec. 5-7 at the Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin. Men’s and women’s action is slated for 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday-Saturday, Dec. 5-6, and for 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7. Several of the nation’s top men’s teams will compete in the event, including No. 6 Tennessee, No. 8 Southern Methodist, No. 13 Nebraska, No. 14 California and No. 18 Harvard. Admission to all sessions is free.