The TYR Pro Swim Series came to Austin this past weekend, captivating swimming fans with a star-studded field, unconventional events and plenty of interactive opportunities.
The meet featured a number of Olympic gold medalists competing in races ranging from traditional staples to newly introduced 50-meter, one-on-one “shootouts.” During the action, a group of noncompeting swimmers, including Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte, signed autographs for eager attendees at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.
Texas swimming and diving was well-represented at the meet. Among the former Longhorn swimmers at the competition were Madisyn Cox, James Cooper, Will Licon, Jack Conger and Clark Smith.
Cox won the inaugural edition of the series’ newly introduced ‘Mystery Medley’ event, taking first with a time of 2:16.12. The race, a spin on the traditional 200-meter individual medley, shakes things up by providing swimmers with the order of their strokes just minutes before the medley.
Cox, who was dealt the order of freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke, said the new event was a grind.
“Painful — putting (butterfly) anywhere but the front is kind of brutal, and then your strategy is all mixed around,” Cox told USA Swimming. “Everybody has a certain way they swim the IM, and that just throws everything off. It makes it fun, though.”
Smith, who capped off his Longhorn career last spring with a national championship, also had a successful weekend. The swimmer earned top-three finishes in the 200-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter freestyle. His performance comes little over a month after Smith pulled out of the Texas Hall of Fame Invitational because of an episode of recurrent atrial fibrillation.
“I haven’t had any episodes since,” Smith said. “(My new medicine) seems to be doing its job so far, which is good. My training was only interrupted for a few days, so I haven’t had any setbacks.”
The meet also provided a welcome challenge for current swimmers on the Texas roster. The TYR Pro Swim Series uses 50-meter, Olympic-sized pools, as opposed to the 25-yard pools used for collegiate swimming. The transition from short-course to long-course swimming can be difficult, especially in the middle of a college season.
Sophomore Claire Adams, who finished sixth in the 50-meter backstroke and claimed the 100-meter backstroke consolation final, said the Longhorns can use long-course competition as beneficial experience for the remainder of the college season.
“We haven’t been training long-course during the season, so we’ve come into this with no expectations,” Adams said. “But switching between long-course and short-course kind of keeps things fresh.
“I think everybody was pretty pleased with their performances, and every race is an opportunity to practice the things we need to work on as we head into further competitions.”
Standout Texas performers included junior Joanna Evans, freshman Evie Pfeifer and senior Rebecca Millard, who took fifth place in the 400-meter freestyle, 400-meter individual medley and 50-meter freestyle, respectively. Junior Quinn Carrozza took fourth place in the 200-meter backstroke.
As the TYR Pro Swim Series heads to Atlanta next, the Longhorn swimming and diving teams will turn their attention toward the final stretch of the regular season. Both the men and the women have three meets remaining before the Big 12 Championships begin on Feb. 21.