Texas Continues Winning Formula — Even Without Winning Many Races at NCAA Championships

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Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

Texas has employed a winning formula that has worked for decades at the NCAA Championships: Swim well, dive even better, use depth as a weapon and show up in relays.

It seems simple, but it is extremely difficult to have those pieces, let alone put all of those elements in place at the same time, year after year.

That seems to be the norm for the Longhorns.

Texas became the first team since Auburn in 2006 to win the NCAA men’s championship without winning any of the individual swimming races. The Longhorns did so by having every qualifier actually score in the meet — all 24 of them.

“Once the momentum starts, people see that if he can do it, I can do it. We saw that with every single person on our team, swimmers and divers. Anything you can give, we will take and that brings out the best in people,” Drew Kibler said.

The Longhorns won a diving event and two relays and used its immense depth to keep its title tradition going with 595 points, holding off a charge by Cal (568).

“It meant everything. Like the name suggests, it is swimming AND diving and our team has a very diverse set of skills,” Jordan Windle said. “We support each other all the way.”

It is the record 15th NCAA title for Texas and coach Eddie Reese, two more than Michigan.

The Longhorns won four in a row before Cal broke the streak in 2019. Texas has won five of the past six.

“I think (Cal sprinter) Ryan Hoffer said it best. They work hard because they know we are working hard and we work hard because we know they’re working hard and we both want the same thing,” Reese said. “Every one of them are different because of the makeup of your team and every one of them has to go through different things. These guys have been through the COVID year and that freeze in Austin. There is something special to overcome every year and this group, they went the whole school year with no positive COVID-19 tests.”

It is the 40th anniversary of Texas’ first title in 1981. Reese has now led the Longhorns to titles in five decades.

Reese has coached 43 years. In addition to the 15 NCAA titles, his Texas teams have been runner-up 12 times and third place seven times. The Longhorns have been in the top 10 in the nation for a stunning 40 consecutive seasons and won 41 consecutive conference championships.

The Longhorns have won 137 individual titles in their history, but only one diving title by Windle, who won this year’s 1-meter, will be added to that total as well as two relays. Windle won the 1-meter event, going 1-2 with Noah Duperre, then Texas won the 400 medley Thursday.

“Our divers, we call them ‘cheat codes,’” Carson Foster said. “They find a way to get it done.”

“It has been amazing watching all of these underclassmen grow throughout the year. It showed and we got the points we needed,” Windle said.

It was only two events but it completely turned the tide of the meet on Thursday. Cal had dominated the first part of Day 2 with its stellar sprinting and this counterpunch brought the Longhorns within striking distance.

And they struck.

It started the very next day when the Longhorns put a stunning four swimmers in the 400 IM finals. They didn’t win, but the 2-5-6-8 finish led by Foster kept the momentum going.

“We were thinking we could get three in the A final and one in the B, but I finished and I heard our team going crazy,” Foster said. “We got four and I lost my mind. It was probably the swim of the meet for our team because the mood changed and it was a snowball effect.”

Texas had a 2-4-8 finish in the 200 free, led by Kibler to follow that up. Windle finished second on 3-meter, leading into Saturday.

“It is a big team effort. We have support from the whole swimming and diving team in good times and bad. When you have that support you are going to go to battle for your team,” Texas diving coach Matt Scoggin said.

On the final day, the Longhorns scored multiple swimmers in the mile, then two in the 200 backstroke finals before Kibler and Daniel Krueger tied for second in the 100 freestyle at 41.59.

Same time, same team, same initials.

“It was super exciting to tie, but it left me unsatisfied because we have this ongoing rivalry of who the real ‘DK’ is. That left us just as lost as before,” Kibler said. “We tied, which was great and exciting points-wise, but we still don’t know who the real ‘DK’ is.”

Caspar Corbeau followed with his second breaststroke finals appearance, Sam Pomajevich took sixth in the 200 butterfly and Windle took fourth on platform with teammate Andrew Harness 10th.

It ensured every Longhorn at the meet scored for their team.

“We had to leave guys home to hit the roster limit of this meet. We had 10 swimmers get left home, which shows how deep we are, but they very well could have come and scored, too,” Foster said. “It is huge that we scored all 20 guys (plus four divers), but we could have had all 30 of us score. We had guys in every single final. We just fit together like a puzzle.

“The reason why you come to Texas is to win championships like this.”