Kris Kubik

Senior Neil Caskey has enjoyed a magnificent career at Texas, earning All-American honors while helping the Longhorns capture their 10th national title under Eddie Reese in 2010.

Photo Credit: Fanny Trang | Daily Texan Staff

On a team ranked No. 2 in the country, it can be difficult to stand out. Senior swimmer Neil Caskey has done this and more for the Longhorns all season long.

Caskey has dominated the competition this season, winning at least one event in every meet except one. To those closest to the team this comes as no surprise.

“Neil is a leader by his example and his training every single day,” said assistant coach Kris Kubik. “He has done seasonal and lifetime bests several times this year, and predicts to be a very big factor in the NCAA scoring for us.”

Voted a senior captain by his teammates, his success has clearly been recognized and rewarded. But every story has a beginning.

“I started swimming at about six years old in a summer league group,” Caskey said. “Swimming started working out best for me and at about age 14 I stopped everything else and went full-time swimming from there.”

Every time Caskey enters the pool, his supreme athletic ability is on display.

“In swimming there’s talented people, and there’s people who aren’t as talented that can outwork those people,” Caskey said. “And you can see a direct effect and your hard work pay off when you beat those more talented people.”

He’s a captain, a former All-American and likely a future Olympic medalist. With accolades like this, Caskey boasts an “it” factor that no one can ignore.

“He’s not the most vocal person in the team meetings,” Kubik said. “But when he speaks, everyone listens because it is very important to the team dynamic.”

Caskey appears to be the type of athlete and man that any school would kill to have. But the Longhorns were always the front-runners in the Caskey sweepstakes.

“It was the tradition and swimming under [men’s swimming and diving head] coach Eddie [Reese], who I think is the best coach in the world,” Caskey said. “And I’m from Houston, so that definitely played a role in it too.”

At UT, sports are the glue that holds the storied history together. Although Caskey was brought here for this reason, he is capitalizing on some other fruits it has to offer.

“I’m studying advertising,” Caskey said. “I’m in a couple of advertising groups that I do weekly meetings for and spread the word for that.”

Four seasons nearly under his belt, and Caskey’s future seems as bright as the sun. The path is lit, and confidence in his next accomplishment looms.

“I think Neil would like to medal in two or three events at the National Championships, which would earn him All-American status again,” Kubik said. “And at this stage that’s looking like exactly what he will do, and we expect him to be standing on that podium representing UT and shooting up the Hook’em Horns.”

A winning talent, attitude and charisma have made Caskey a household name amongst fans and friends alike. If swimming ever ends, Caskey’s winning ways will never halt.

“Neil is a person who cares about others, and a person who if you spend more than five minutes with him you will have a friend for life,” Kubik said. “Neil is someone who will be successful in whatever he chooses to do down the line.”

Printed on Tuesday January 24, 2012 as: Future bright for senior All-American

Women's Swimming and Diving

In a meet rescheduled to Saturday because of Friday’s inclement weather, Texas defeated Texas A&M 170-127.5 with 10 wins from eight different swimmers.

The confusion didn’t stop with the weather as swimmers on both teams were forced to compete in different events than initially planned as a result of the day change.

“Very rapidly, we were grabbing people and saying, ‘No, you’re not in the backstroke; you’re in the butterfly,’ which is their special event, or ‘You’re not going to swim in the breaststroke; you’re going to swim the 200 individual medley or 400 individual medley,’” said Texas assistant coach Kris Kubik. “It was good. It was a wake-up call for the boys that they’re not invincible.”

Cole Cragin, Scott Spann, Neil Caskey and Jimmy Feigen began the meet with a second-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay.

Cragin then captured Texas’ first win in the 100 backstroke while freshman Madison Wenzler finished in second. Caskey followed up with wins in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly races while freshman Miles Joye finished second in both.

Dax Hill added another win for the Longhorns in the 100 freestyle, and Feigen and Scott Jostes followed close behind in second and third.

Texas then swept the podium in the 200-yard backstroke before landing the top two spots in the 200 breast.

Texas junior Jackson Wilcox had the best individual performance of the meet, winning the 500 freestyle in four minutes and 17.79 seconds. He now ranks second nationally in the event.

“My confidence is way higher than I thought it would be,” Wilcox said. “That’s a great swim for me right now. I’m really excited about it, and I’m really excited for our team. We’ve got a lot of good things going for us right now.”

Jostes, the Hill brothers and Joye finished the meet with a win in the 200 freestyle relay.
“Jackson Wilcox had a great swim and sort of spearheaded the drive, and a lot of people rose to the occasion, and it was something that we needed to do as a group,” Kubik said. “We have great team chemistry this year; we have great camaraderie. We have a lot of guys who are willing to do anything for Texas.”

The meet was Texas’ final tune-up prior to the Big 12 Championships on Feb. 23 in Austin.

The Longhorns have garnered 43 individual NCAA swimming titles

Junior Matt Cooper will be one of 19 Longhorns competing at the NCAA championships.

Photo Credit: Bobby Longoria | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns have a knack for winning swimming national championships — nine to be exact, with three in the past decade (2000, 2001, 2002).

Under the guidance of eight-time NCAA Coach of the Year Eddie Reese, the No. 2 Longhorns (6-1) traveled to Columbus, Ohio on Monday in an attempt to secure a 10th NCAA championship at Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. Competition begins Friday and finals end Sunday evening.

The team has finished in second place at the championships on eight occasions, including last season, with Reese leading Texas to top-three NCAA finishes in 24 of his previous 31 seasons.

On top of that, the Longhorns have accumulated 43 NCAA individual swimming titles, 35 NCAA relay titles and 16 NCAA diving crowns with Reese at the helm.

Texas will look to add to those marks after a promising regular season, the only defeat coming from the then-No. 2 Arizona Wildcats, who currently occupy the top spot.

The Longhorns claimed their 14th consecutive Big 12 championship meet and Reese’s 30th successive conference title at Texas.

Last week’s Zone Diving Championships, an NCAA-qualifying meet for divers, saw 2009 NCAA 1-meter champion and sophomore Drew Livingston and junior Matt Cooper qualify for the national championships.

The two divers will complete a 19-man squad, consisting of Olympians Ricky Berens and David Walters as well as freshman Big 12 champion Austin Surhoff. Texas is sending the largest contingent of swimmers and divers with Arizona, Auburn, California and Ohio State bringing 18 each.

Assistant coach Kris Kubik believes Texas’ progress this season comes on the back of the positive influence the seniors had on their teammates and that the team is fully capable of bringing home a national championship.

“We’ve had phenomenal senior leadership from each of our seniors the entire year, not only in practicing and racing but in giving advice to our younger swimmers,” Kubik said. “So it has been a very pleasant year thus far, and as far as any surprises are concerned, I think ideally the whole team will be a surprise because I think we’re ready to do something very special.”

Other than the experienced duo of Berens and Walters, the Longhorns have several NCAA veterans among them. Senior Hill Taylor is making his fourth straight appearance, and for senior Peter Jameson and juniors Scott Spann and Bryan Collins, it will be their third.

Sophomore Jimmy Feigen, making his second trip to the championships, will be reunited with his nemesis, California’s Nathan Adrian. As a freshman, Feigen came in second to Adrian at the NCAAs in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, the Longhorn’s favored competitions. This time, Feigen is swimming with a year of experience under his belt and with more confidence, qualifying at the conference championships for the 50 freestyle with an NCAA “A Cut” of 19.34 and also winning the 100.

Texas’ first-timers include junior Jim Robertson and freshmen Surhoff, Nick D’Innocenzo and Cole Cragin.
Surhoff will the be one to watch this week after he was named Big 12 Conference Championship Newcomer of the Meet, winning the 200 backstroke, 200 individual medley and placing second in the 400 individual medley.

Robertson is part of a trio of Longhorns competing in the 500 freestyle. He will be led by sophomore Jackson Wilcox and junior Scott Jostes.

Jostes has recently made a name for himself by setting records. In 2009, he was the NCAA champion and record holder in the 800 freestyle relay with a time of 6:10.06. He is also an American record holder in the 200 freestyle and 200 and 800 medley relays.

“Scott had an outstanding year last year and got a taste of the competition at the NCAA level,” Kubik said. “So we fully expect for him to be a big contributing factor for points at the NCAAs this year, not only in his individual events but also on relays.”

He is also swimming in the 200 and 100 freestyle, lining up against teammate Feigen in the latter.

Texas did not have much success in the backstroke competitions at last year’s meet with 2009 All-American Taylor finishing third and sixth in the 100 and 200 events, respectively. The senior will be the lone Longhorn in the 100 backstroke and will also take part in the 100 butterfly alongside sophomore Neil Caskey. This year, Surhoff will be accompanied by Collins and sophomore Hayes Johnson in the 200 backstroke, without the experienced Taylor.

NCAA.com offers live video streaming of each day’s sessions except Sunday’s finals, which will be aired by ESPN360.com.