AUSTIN, Texas, February 26. THE Big 12 men and women’s swimming and diving championships started this evening in the Texas capitol with a dominant showing by the Longhorns in the opening relay events.
Lily Moldenhauer, Gretchen Jacques, Brynne Wong and Ellen Lobb gave Texas its first automatic relay qualifying time of the season with a 1:37.16 to win the 200 medley relay by three seconds over West Virginia (1:40.41) and Kansas (1:40.63). The Texas women returned to post a winning time of 7:01.97 in the 800 free relay for another automatic qualifying time. Kansas scored a B cut time of 7:11.99 for second, while Iowa State was third with a 7:18.24.
On the men’s side, Texas nearly erased a five-year-old meet record of 1:24.23 in the 200 medley relay with a 1:24.86 on the strength of a 20.13 butterfly split by freshman Jack Conger. It was the only NCAA automatic qualifying time in the event, as West Virginia’s 1:26.59 was good for a B cut that could still find its way back to Austin for the NCAA championships. Texas Christian posted a 1:28.13 to officially post third place. Texas swam three exhibition medley relays, one of which swam faster than West Virginia. The Texas B squad put up a 1:26.28, while the C team posted a 1:27.28 ahead of the D team’s 1:27.93.
In the men’s 800 free relay Conger led off with a swift 1:33.64 to put Texas in the hunt for a top-eight time headed into the NCAAs, which is important since the 800 free relay is a timed final event at NCAAs. The Longhorns finished with a 6:17.24, which might end up on the bubble of being able to compete in the final heat next month. West Virginia came in second with a 6:26.87, while TCU was third in 6:36.04.
The men’s 1-meter diving event featured four Longhorns who could figure prominently in next month’s NCAA championships. Michael Hixon won with a score of 429.00 points, while Will Chandler was second with a score of 404.20. Sean O’Brien was third with 390.70, while Cory Bowersox took fourth with a 388.20. Placement in the NCAA championships is determined by performances at the zone meets in about a week, so placings in diving this week are fairly insignificant outside of points scored for teams.