Dax Hill

Senior Dax Hill swims the breaststoke leg of the 200 IM event at the Big 12 Championships. Hill will be swimming in his third and final NCAA championships as the Longhorns, as the top-ranked team, look for their 11th national title this weekend in Indiana.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

To earn an NCAA qualifying time, you obviously have to be fast. Usually, that speed comes from experience. The majority of swimmers at the NCAA championship meet are either junior or seniors. But every once in a while a freshman with enough raw talent comes around who give the veterans a run for their money.

Freshman Sam Lewis has emerged in the pool as a force to be reckoned with, especially in distance events. Thanks to a strong first season, people are starting to take note of Lewis’ potential.

“There were a bunch of no-names coming in to the Big 12 championship,” senior Dax Hill said. “And now everybody knows who Sam Lewis is.”

After receiving high praise from distinguished head coach Eddie Reese at the Big 12 championship, Lewis is looking to earn more distinction at the NCAA championships.

“He did a great job,” Reese said of Lewis’s 500-yard freestyle performance, which earned him an NCAA qualification. “It’s tough to be out there with guys that have more experience who went out like they went out.”

It’s only going to get tougher for Lewis as he faces more intense competition in not only the 500, but also the 1,650 and 200 national freestyle events. But Reese doesn’t appear to have any concerns with Lewis’s coming performance at nationals. 

“He’s gonna make me famous,” Reese said.

With the recognition earned from winning the Big 12 Championship’s Newcomer of the Meet, all eyes will be on Lewis for his first highly anticipated NCAA championship appearance.

Just as high hopes are set for Lewis’ first national championship berth, high expectations are set for seniors Michael McBroom, Dax Hill and Austin Surhoff.

Unlike Lewis, Hill did not qualify until his sophomore year. One year later, he secured the NCAA title in the 200 freestyle, becoming the first African-American at Texas to win a men’s NCAA individual swimming title. Hill is favored again this year for the event and is likely to place among the top in the 100 freestyle as well.

McBroom has qualified for NCAA Championships all four years of his collegiate career, three of which were completed as a Longhorn. McBroom transferred to Texas his sophomore season and, in the same season, set the school record and won the NCAA title in the 1,650 freestyle.

“I’m excited for NCAA, I’m looking forward to it,” McBroom said. “Hopefully I’ve still got more time to shave off.”

McBroom has since set the NCAA record in the 1,000 freestyle. He holds the nation’s fastest time in the 1,650 freestyle and is clearly favored for the event.

As a freshman, Surhoff was the Longhorn’s top individual point scorer and helped lead the Longhorns to win their 10th NCAA team title. This season, Surhoff earned NCAA qualifying marks in the 200, which he has previously won, and 400
individual medleys.

“There’s gonna be about three people that are the ones to beat at nationals and he’s gonna be one of those three,” Reese said of Surhoff.

The seven swimmers set to join Hill, Surhoff, McBroom and Lewis are juniors Charlie Moore, Patrick Murphy and Caleb Weir; sophomores Tripp Cooper, Kip Darmody, Jake Ritter and Clay Youngquist. Divers redshirt sophomore Will Chandler and freshman Cory Bowersox will attend in the attempt to earn titles as well.

“We all are learning from each other and I think that’s the biggest thing that’s different from last year,” Hill commented. “Everybody knows they have more to give.”

No. 1 Texas has significant potential to take its 11th national title in Indianapolis. Texas has finished no worse than second at the last five NCAA Championship meets and looks to continue the tradition starting Thursday.

Men's Swimming and Diving

No. 7 Texas delivered on high expectations Friday, completely washing out Big 12 Conference rival TCU in 11 of 12 events, leading to a 133-88 victory.

Seniors Austin Surhoff and Dax Hill, sophomore Tripp Cooper and junior Charlie Moore set the tone for victory with a 1:31.77 win in the 200-yard medley relay. Sophomore Jake Ritter extended that tone as he led a one-two Texas finish in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:41.30.

Hill additionally led the 50 freestyle with a winning time of 20.83 seconds, and Surhoff, a former NCAA champion in the 200 individual medley, easily took that event with a time of 1:50.11.

Enhancing the Longhorn victory, both freshman Cory Bowersox and sophomore Will Chandler led a one-two-three-four Texas diving finish. Bowersox tallied 359.63 points in the one-meter event and Chandler 432.53 points in the three-meter.

Texas concluded the meet with wins in the last two events, however a Longhorn victory was eminent, so Texas completed the events as exhibitions.

The Longhorns will continue with their dual-meet schedule on Feb. 1, at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center when they host Arizona and SMU.

Senior Neil Caskey and California’s Benjamin Hinshaw race within inches of each other during the 800 yard freestyle relay on Friday. At the meet, Caskey broke a school record in the 200 butterfly with a time o

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The No. 2 Texas Longhorns men’s swimming and diving team fell short of winning their 11th national title over the weekend, coming in second place to No. 6 California.

Following a strong performance on Thursday in which the Texas men finished third in points earned, Friday saw the Longhorns get off to a great start, as 10 individuals and one relay squad posted preliminary times strong enough to qualify for the finals later in the day. Texas pushed into second place by the end of day two, but couldn’t string together enough close wins to edge the Bears by day three.

Texas would add two more titles to their overall Championship haul on Friday, raising the total to four through the first two days of the event. The first came from junior Dax Hill, who competed in the 200-yard freestyle.

Hill’s performance was an impressive one. The Round Rock native posted the fastest time of the day in preliminaries. Entering the final heat, Hill was looking to one-up his performance in the event from the 2011 NCAA championship where he finished in second place.

Hill got off to a strong start in the race, but quickly fell behind USC’s Dimitri Colupaev. With 100 yards to go, Hill knew it was his moment to make a move.

“[Colupaev] went out fast tonight and in the last 100 I saw I was catching up to him. I knew he was going to be hurting so I turned it up a notch. When I flipped on the last turn I knew my legs were a little fresher and I had it,” Hill said.

Hill finished the event in a time of 1:32.51, good for fifth best in school history.

“It feels amazing and it is almost a relief,” Hill said. “The team needed it and I was glad I was able to come through for the guys.”

And Hill’s contributions to the team were just getting started. In addition to his individual event, Hill joined freshman Clay Youngquist, freshman Kip Darmody and senior Neil Caskey in the 800-yard freestyle relay. Hill charged off the blocks in the first leg of the race and put the squad among the front in the event, recording a split time of 1:33.80. Youngquist followed this with an even stronger performance and put the Horns in the front of the field.

Despite this early success, the Horns squad faltered a bit in the middle of the race as Darmody was overtaken by California’s Will Hamilton in the third leg. The burden of the victory fell on the shoulders of Caskey, who contributed to a Longhorn victory in the event back in 2010. This time around, Caskey came up big for the Horns, posting a personal best split-time of 1:33.26, fast enough to secure another national championship for the relay team.

The Longhorns’ point total increased from 128.5 to 343.5 on Friday, moving the squad into second place. Heading into the final day of the championships, the Longhorns had closed the gap on first place California, just 34 points away from the lead.

Saturday proved to be the decisive day for the team. Senior Jimmy Feigen anchored the 400-yard relay squad. He followed Hill, Youngquist and junior Austin Surhoff. Feigen blazed through his closing leg of the event, erasing a deficit of almost a full second and overtaking the field en route to delivering another national title for the Horns.

Feigen’s night was just getting started. The 17-time All-American returned to the pool in the 100-yard free. When the lights came on, Feigen didn’t let the effects of a grueling championship schedule stand in the way of his second individual title of the weekend.

“I was weary going into tonight and wanted to get off the blocks as fast as I could,” Feigen said. “When I saw that I was ahead I was a little shocked. It fueled my energy level and I pulled out the win.”

At the end of the day, the Horns simply couldn’t find enough victories to overtake the commanding California lead. The Longhorns fell to the Golden Bears 491 to 535.5. Coach Eddie Reese held on to a high expectation for his team to earn another national championship, though claimed full responsibility for the team’s shortcoming.

“You would think second would be good enough, but it is not,” Reese said. “We came in having a shot and Cal stepped up every time and had a great race. We let down a little bit this morning and they got up on us. We weren’t as good as we needed to be and that is my fault.”

Overall, 14 swimmers earned All-American or honorable mention statuses. The five individual titles won over the weekend are the second highest haul for the team since the seven earned in 2004. With this year’s second place finish, Texas has continued an incredible reign as one of the top swimming programs in the country, extending a mark of top-five finishes in 32 out of the past 33 years.

Printed on Monday, March 26, 2012 as: Texas falls short of national title

Editors Note: The article incorrectly ran in the Daily Texan claiming Texas was in first place after day one. Texas finished in third place after the first round of competition and we wanted to correct to make it clear. 

On Thursday, the Texas men’s swimming and diving team began the final push towards claiming an NCAA title, which would be the 11th in school history. The championship is awarded to the team that collects the most team points at the end of the three-day meet. Points are given based on finishing positions in each race.

The Longhorns entered the first event of the evening, the 200-yard freestyle relay, with the first seed. The relay team of Jimmy Feigen, Tripp Cooper, Charles Moore and Dax Hill posted a blistering time of 1:16.58 in prelims. However, during the finals for the event, the Texas men couldn’t keep a charging squad from California at bay. The Horns came in fourth to the Golden Bears, finishing with a time of 1:16.72 and earning 30 team points.

Up next for the Horns was junior Michael McBroom in the 500 freestyle. The 2011 NCAA Champion in the 1650 freestyle, McBroom finished in seventh place with a time of 4:20.11, a full four seconds slower than his preliminary time.

Still, McBroom’s finish earned 12 team points for the Horns.

In the third event of the evening, Texas sent two swimmers to the blocks in the 200 IM. Juniors Austin Surhoff and Nick D’Innocenzo finished tied for 11th and received 15th respectively, earning a total of 7.5 points for the team.

Amidst these sub-par showings, Jimmy Feigen returned to the blocks in the 50 freestyle looking to deliver a strong performance for his team. Feigen, a 23-time All-American, earned 20 points for the Longhorns and added an NCAA individual title with a first place finish in the event, posting a time of 19.01.

Not to be outdone by his title-earning teammate, senior diver Drew Livingston finished the fifth event of the evening, the 1-meter diving competition, with a first place finish. Livingston posted a final score of 448.1, beating his nearest competitor by nearly 40 seconds and on the way to earning 20 team points for Texas. Livingston is a two-time NCAA champion in the event, last earning the title as a freshman in 2009. Fellow Longhorn diver Matt Cooper competed in the event as well, earning a 10th place finish and another seven points for Texas.

In the final race of the night, the 400-yard medley relay, the squad composed of Cole Cragin, Eric Friedland, Neil Caskey and Hill looked to build upon a strong showing in preliminaries where they posted a time of 3:06.68, good enough for a second seed in the finals. In the finals, the Longhorns were able to beat their preliminary time, finishing the race with a respectable 3:05.68. However, this improvement fell short of a first place finish — the Horns wound up with a third place showing behind California and Arizona, but the relay team earned 32 team points for the Horns.

On the day, Texas finished with 121.5 points, good enough for a lead ahead of the rest of the field heading into the second day of the event. Coverage begins Saturday at 9 p.m. on ESPN3.

Printed on Friday, March 23, 2012 as: Longhorns at top after first day of championships

On an SEC road trip, top-ranked Texas followed up its first loss of the season against No. 3 Auburn on Friday by beating No. 11 Georgia one day later.

Although the Longhorns won seven events on Friday, Auburn was victorious with a final score of 125.5-117.5.

Sophomores Nick D’Innocenzo and Michael McBroom both had two wins. McBroom won the 1,000 freestyle, with senior Jim Robertson finishing second and freshman Matt Belecanech fourth.

Auburn took the lead after its one-two finish in the 400-yard medley relay. Texas had a strong team finish in the 200 freestyle with sophomore Dax Hill, senior Scott Jostes and junior Kyle McNeilis finishing first, second and third. After that, D’Innocenzo won the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:48.25.

As usual, junior diver Drew Livingston had a strong performance with a winning score of 393.68 points in the one-meter event. Freshman Will Chandler came in third. Livingston finished third in the three-meter diving event.

Caskey’s victory in the 200 butterfly gave Texas a short-lived 72-59 lead on the Tigers. Texas had a one-two-three finish in the 500 freestyle with McBroom, Robertson and McNeilis leading the pack and D’Innocenzo added to his win total with a top finish in the 200 breaststroke.

There was only one point separating the teams going into the final event of the day — the 400 freestyle relay. Longhorns Hill, Jostes, Miles Joye and Caskey came in second, sealing the Texas loss.

The next day, the Longhorns faced Georgia at the Gabrielsen Natatorium. Texas was victorious in nine of 13 events and won the meet with a final score of 135-106. Feign and D’Innocenzo both had two wins.

Junior Jackson Wilcox led the Longhorns to victory this weekend at the Texas Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame Invitational with the nation’s fastest time in the 500-yard freestyle and a win in the
1,650 freestyle.

Texas was victorious with 1,148 points, followed by Arizona with 1,003 points and Wisconsin with 446.

The team had a strong second place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay with Jimmy Feigen, Donald Sutton, Dax Hill and Charlie Moore.

Junior Drew Livingston led the Texas divers by taking second in the 1-meter diving event with 391.50 points in the finals and second in the 3-meter.

Cole Cragin, Scott Spann, Neil Caskey and Feigen began the second day of competition with a victory in the 200 medley relay and senior Bryan Collins and sophomore Austin Surhoff came in second and third in the 400 IM Finals.

Texas alumnus and Beijing olympian Ricky Berens made an appearance and won the 200-freestyle while Hill finished in third.

Freshmen Woody Joye, Patrick Murphy, Matt Belecanech and Bobby Button had an impressive second-place finish in the 800 freestyle relay.

Head coach Eddie Reese was very pleased with the meet and felt that the team learned a lot.

“It’s the kind of meet that you get better every session, but you’ve got to pay attention to what you’re doing, you’ve got to pay attention to what everybody else is doing,” Reese said. “This has definitely been the best group effort of the year and one of the best group efforts I’ve seen out of any of our teams.”

Although the team was strong all weekend, Reese there is still work to be done.

“We’ve got a lot of little things we need to improve on,” Reese said. “We’ve got to work on turns, we’ve got to get better at starts, butterfly kick underwater — just a bunch of little things that this time of year you have to fix. A lot of those get better just because you get rested.”

Reese is pleased with where the team is at this point in the season.

“What makes a team, especially in an individual sport, is you’ve got to pay attention to each other and you’ve got to take care of each other and that’s what we did really well this weekend,” Reese said. “When guys were disappointed in what they did, the team took care of them.”