University of Texas Men Return with Dominant Butterfly Core Intact

Four Texas butterfly swimmers
Four of the six Texas swimmers on the podium for the 100-yard butterfly at the 2015 NCAA Championships. Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold - Aringo Photos

By Peter Baugh, Swimming World College Intern

University of Texas sophomore Joseph Schooling hates losing. But, if he has to come in second to someone, it would be teammate Jack Conger, a junior.

“Outside the pool we’re great friends, but at meets we kind of just do our own thing,” Schooling said. “We know we support each other and everything, but no, we don’t really talk much during the meets.”

Last season at NCAA Championships, Schooling and Conger led the University of Texas group of butterfly swimmers. In the 100-yard butterfly event, Texas placed six swimmers in the A final. This was the highest number of swimmers ever to appear in an A final from one team at NCAA Championships. 

At the meet, Schooling led the charge for the Longhorns, out touching Conger with a time of 44.51. Conger finished in second place by only four one-hundredths of a second. Texas swimmers also finished in third, fourth, sixth and eighth place.

“I think we have the best fly group in the world,” Schooling said. “No team has the depth we do and strength in doing fly.”

And what is scary for competitors is that Texas could be even stronger this season. Aside from Tripp Cooper, the third place finisher at NCAAs, the Longhorns are returning every 100-yard butterfly swimmer who made A finals.

Junior Will Glass finished fourth in the 100-yard butterfly at NCAA Championships. He said that having so many teammates swimming with him made him comfortable at the meet.

“When it was six guys on the blocks it felt like practice almost,” Glass said. “We were used to it. It was different because it was on that level, but it was a cool feeling.”

The Texas team is coached by Eddie Reese. Reese has coached the Longhorns since 1978 and has also been selected as head coach of United States Olympic Team three times. Schooling says that Reese, “knows this game better than anyone else.”


Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Reese has a number of methods he uses to help his butterfly swimmers. Though he has the team work on kicking and turns during practice, he also feels that his swimmer’s excellence comes from how the team trains out of the pool.

“Part of our butterfly success is due to how hard the guys work in the weightroom and in the water– our weight room work is geared to strength which equals speed,” Reese said.

For Schooling, Reese and assistant coach Kris Kubik are a comforting presence at meets due to their experience with the sport. Glass is also happy with the coaching staff and tries to give as much credit to them as possible.

“We would give it all to the coaches if we could,” Glass said. “Those guys are awesome and they really know what they’re doing in the pool. And the other thing about those guys – Eddie, Kris and Wyatt (Collins) – is they’ll help you in the pool and they want you to be better people out of the pool also.”

Schooling and Conger continued their success over the summer. Conger finished second in both the 100-meter butterfly and 200-meter butterfly at Phillips 66 National Championships behind Michael Phelps. Conger dropped over three seconds in his 200-meter butterfly swim at the meet.

Schooling competed for Singapore at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia. At the meet he earned a bronze medal in the 100-meter butterfly.

“Worlds was a good meet,” he said. “I’m where I needed to be, where I thought I should be heading into Rio for next year.”

For Schooling, the Rio Olympics are the main focus of the coming season. Though he will rest for NCAA Championships, he will not have a full taper as he did this past season. Still, Schooling is confident that Texas will have a strong showing at NCAA Championships.

With the strength of the Longhorns in butterfly, the swimmers are able to push each other in practice. Schooling is grateful to be able to practice with his Texas teammates.

“It’s just amazing to train with all these world class athletes on a daily basis,” he said. “It gets me better. It keeps me on my feet, keeps me on my toes. And I’m very happy and very honored to have the opportunity to do that.”

Joseph Schooling NCAA champion

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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