It’s no surprise that Texas, the reigning champion, is favored to win the 18th annual Big 12 Championship in Austin this weekend. Texas has won 17 consecutive Big 12 titles since the tournament began in 1996.
Head coach Eddie Reese, in his 35th year at the helm, is known for setting the bar high, as no school has won more NCAA team titles than Texas since his arrival. Reese took Texas from being a 21st-ranked team in his first season to winning 10 NCAA titles — more than any other team in that time span.
“We started the tradition of being very good,” Reese said. “We’ve kept it going and they know that, it’s why a lot of them come here.”
As a three-time Olympic coach — 1992 Barcelona, 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing — Reese is a vital recruiting tool and attracts the best swimmers in the country. In his tenure, he has had no trouble translating that talent into success.
But Reese doesn’t have time to celebrate his achievements and success as head coach. With 13 talented freshmen on his team, Reese is prepared for a long, but rewarding, season. He knows a strong team bond is needed to compete at a national level.
“It’s not just about what I’m swimming,” said senior freestyle swimmer Charles Moore, a two-time Big 12 champion. “It’s about what everyone is swimming. For us it’s individual efforts that are going to add up. Freshmen are always going to have unbelievable swims.”
Texas swam well during the year, bringing it to No. 6 in the NCAA, but the team wants more, and that road starts this weekend with the Big 12 Championships.
“At this meet, we have to worry about the times because that’s what’s going to qualify us for the NCAAs,” Reese said.
In the early goings, the home waters seem to be treating the Longhorns well. Texas built itself a lead in the first night of the championships, winning all three events — the 200 medley relay, 800 freestyle relay and one-meter diving — Thursday night.
Texas started the night taking first in the 200 medley in 1:24.86, before absolutely dominating in diving, where it took the top six spots led by freshman Michael Hixon’s 429 points.
The Longhorns also beat TCU and West Virginia, the only other two Big 12 men’s swimming programs, in the 800 freestyle relay with a time of 6:17.24 to close the night. Texas leaves the pool with 175 points total, far eclipsing TCU’s 97 points and West Virginia’s 80 points.
The championships will continue Thursday with the 50 and 500 freestyle finals and the 200 and 400 individual medley relays beginning at 6 p.m at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.