It’s that time of the year again. SwimSwam will be previewing the top 12 men’s and women’s teams (and then some) from the 2023 NCAA Championships. Follow along with the College Swimming Preview Channel. Want to read even more? Check out the latest edition of the SwimSwam magazine.
#3 Texas Longhorns
Key Losses: David Johnston (43 NCAA points), Carson Foster (42 NCAA points, 3 NCAA relays), Jake Foster (28 NCAA points), Caspar Corbeau (35 NCAA points, 4 NCAA relays), Peter Larson (3 NCAA relays), Will Chan (1 NCAA relay)
Over the years, we’ve gone back and forth on how to project points, ranging from largely subjective rankings to more data-based grading criteria based on ‘projected returning points.’ We like being as objective as possible, but we’re going to stick with the approach we’ve adopted post-Covid. The “stars” will rely heavily on what swimmers actually did last year, but we’ll also give credit to returning swimmers or freshmen who have posted times that would have scored last year.
Since we only profile the top 12 teams in this format, our grades are designed with that range in mind. In the grand scheme of college swimming and compared to all other college programs, top 12 NCAA programs would pretty much all grade well across the board. But in the interest of making these previews informative, our grading scale is tough – designed to show the tiers between the good stroke groups, the great ones, and the 2015 Texas fly group types.
- 5 star (★★★★★) – a rare, elite NCAA group projected to score 25+ points per event
- 4 star (★★★★) – a very, very good NCAA group projected to score 15-24 points per event
- 3 star (★★★) – a good NCAA group projected to score 5-14 points per event
- 2 star (★★) – a solid NCAA group projected to score 1-4 points per event
- 1 star (★) – an NCAA group that is projected to score no points per event, though that doesn’t mean it’s without potential scorers – they’ll just need to leapfrog some swimmers ahead of them to do it
We’ll grade each event discipline: sprint free (which we define to include all the relay-distance freestyle events, so 50, 100 and 200), distance free, IM, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and diving. Use these grades as a jumping-off point for discussion, rather than a reason to be angry.
Also, keep in mind that we are publishing many of these previews before teams have posted finalized rosters. We’re making our assessments based on the best information we have available at the time of publication, but we reserve the right to make changes after publication based on any new information that may emerge regarding rosters. If that does happen, we’ll make certain to note the change.
Despite the usual flash of early-season speed, the 2022-23 campaign started off on a bit of a grim note as several swimmers dropped off Texas’ roster early in the season. None of them represented huge NCAA points, but guys like Anthony Grimm and Zac Van Zandt would’ve been solid relay pieces at worst.
Fast forward to NCAAs, and the core of the team delivered. The Longhorns started the meet by once again setting the all-time record in the 800 free relay. Sophomore Luke Hobson picked up two wins by taking the 500 and 200 freestyles. David Johnston and Carson Foster each appeared in three ‘A’ finals, while Caspar Corbeau and Jake Foster each made two championship final appearances.
However, the rest of the roster only accounted for another 32 individual swimming points. The diving crew scored 44 points, which was solid, but not the 70-80 points they’d racked up in years past. The end result was that Texas slipped to 3rd place, finishing out of the top two for the first time since 2013.
And while technically this goes beyond the 2022-2023 season, we’ll also note here that longtime head coach Eddie Reese announced that he plans to retire upon the conclusion of this season. Reese previously announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2021 season, but quickly changed his mind. Regardless, the Longhorns will certainly be striving to send out Reese on a high note, despite losing a ton of returning points due to graduations and redshirts.
SPRINT FREE: ★★★
No one on the roster swam the 50 free at NCAAs, while only one returning swimmer contested the 100 free. That was Luke Hobson, who won the 500 and the 200 free in Minneapolis. Hobson is responsible for most of the stars in this discipline, as he seems like a lock to finish in the top three in the 200 free again after clocking 1:30.43 last season. He’s also the fastest returner in the 100, and the only man on the team who’s been under 43 with a best time of 41.99. He even jumped on the 200 free relay last year, splitting a solid 18.65.
The only other likely points in this discipline come from Coby Carrozza, who finished 8th in the 200 free and has a best time of 1:32.06.
The cupboard gets pretty bare pretty quickly after that. The Longhorns lose their five fastest men in the 50 free. Returners Cole Crane, Peter Paulus, and Kobe Ndebele all swam 19.76 last season, and Ndebele, Paulus, Carrozza, Alec Filipovic, and Andrew Zettle all have 100 bests of 43-something. Ndebele (1:34.48) and Jackson Huckabay (1:34.38) may vie for spots on the 800 free relay.
You’re going to see the names Will Modglin and Nate Germonprez a lot in this preview, as the pair of freshmen are primed to make impacts in a number of disciplines. Modglin’s been 19.56/43.27/1:35.96, while Germonprez has been 19.65/43.17/1:33.96. If you’re keeping track, both of those 50 free times are faster than any returning Longhorn went last season, and neither recruit is primarily a sprint free specialist.
Another freshman, Camden Taylor, comes out of high school with bests of 20.42/43.72/1:36.30. That 100 time especially stacks up well against the rest of the Longhorns’ roster.
DISTANCE FREE: ★★★½
This group takes a big hit with David Johnston‘s red shirt, as he finished 2nd in the 500 and 4th in the 1650 last year, but it’s still one of the stronger disciplines for the Longhorns. Luke Hobson won his second straight title in the 500 free last season, and while he’s certainly not a lock to win again, you can go ahead and pencil him in for a top-three or four finish. Coby Carrozza also returns after finishing 11th in the same event after going a lifetime best of 4:12.05 in prelims.
Alec Enyeart had a bit of an up-and-down year in his freshman season. He improved his 500 time from 4:20.49 to 4:14.21, a time which would’ve placed him 17th in prelims, but he ended up going 4:19.68 at NCAAs. He bounced back to finish 13th in the 1650, swimming a 14:47.13 that wasn’t too far off his personal best of 14:43.39.
Jackson Huckabay made the transition from sprint free to distance last season, and he quickly improved from 4:26.36/4:16.31 in the 500, and he also went 15:02.44. Both of those times are approaching the 4:14.35/14:53.84 it took to qualify for NCAAs last season.
This group gets a huge shot in the arm thanks to the arrival of freshman Will Modglin. He’s already nearly cracked the 45-second barriers and his best time of 45.01 would’ve made the ‘A’ final, while his 1:40.54 would’ve just made the 200 back consolation final.
Rising senior Christopher O’Connor qualified for NCAAs last year after hitting lifetime bests of 46.31/1:40.21. He missed scoring in the 200 after going 1:40.98 in prelims, finishing 19th.
Nathan Quarterman hit a lifetime best of 1:41.71 late last season as a sophomore. That’s still a ways off of last season’s NCAA qualifying time of 1:40.62, but it’s close enough that he’s worth watching.
We’ve seen this discipline cycle rapidly between being a strong one and a weak one for the Longhorns. This year, it’s a bit more complicated, as the Longhorns lose all their NCAA qualifiers, but bring in several freshmen who should help blunt the loss.
The headliner is Nate Germonprez, whose best times of 52.59 and 1:54.87 immediately propel him to the top of the depth chart. Those are still shy of the 51.90 and 1:52.94 it took to qualify for NCAAs last year, but in between his improvement arc and chances at qualifying in an IM (see below), it’s probably safe to assume that Germonprez will make NCAAs one way or another.
Will Scholtz is another strong recruit who’s been 53.61 and 1:56.72, and again, both of those times are faster than any returner went last season.
There’s also a really intriguing prospect in the form of Brayden Taivassalo. The Canadian national has a few yards times, thanks to attending high school in Florida for a stretch, but it’s his meters times that show more promise. He’s been 1:00.11 and 2:08.48 in SCM and 1:01.10 and 2:11.28 in LCM. Those SCM times convert to roughly 54/1:55 in yards, and those LCM times compare favorably to Caspar Corbeau‘s times heading into college.
With no one on the team within NCAA qualifying range yet, we have to stick with a one-star rating for this discipline, but that comes with a big caveat that this group could improve rapidly and make an impact at the national level soon.
They’ve got fairly similar times, with Artmann excelling slightly more at the 200; his 1:41.86 best time secured a ‘B’ final appearance at NCAAs, where he ultimately finished 12th. He’s also been 45.97 in the 100.
Crane’s been 1:42.25 in the 200, and improved his 100 time to 45.61 last season. He swam the fly leg on the 400 medley relay, spitting 45.3, and he may end up swimming on the 200 this season as well.
Rising sophomore Ryan Branon is knocking on the door of an NCAA invite in the 200 after improving to 1:43.17 last season.
Yet again, the Longhorns lose all of last season’s scorers in this discipline, as Carson Foster (who turned pro early), Jake Foster (who graduated), David Johnston (red shirt), and Caspar Corbeau (graduated) combined for six scoring swims.
Among returners, Spencer Aurnou-Rhees was the fastest in the 200 IM last season, at 1:43.87. He improved his best time by almost 2.5 seconds last season, and another one-second drop should put him in NCAA qualifying range. He and Alec Enyeart are the only two returning Longhorns who even registered 400 IM swims last season, with both clocking it at 3:47.
Of course, the versatile Will Modglin and Nate Germonprez could each find themselves swimming the 200 IM come championship season. Germonprez’s best time is 1:42.82, about half a second shy of the time it took to make the ‘B’ final last year. Modglin’s best is about a half a second behind at 1:43.37.
Additionally, Will Scholtz has been 1:45.89/3:48.75 coming out of high school. Again, there’s no guarantee he’ll make NCAAs, much less score, but he should add some depth.
There’s some good news here for Texas, as the always-strong diving corps returns all 44 points from last year. Rising senior Noah Duperre led the way last year by scoring in all three events, including an 8th-place finish in the 3m. Then-freshman Nick Harris made an immediate impact by taking 7th in the 1m and 10th in the 2m, while Brendan McCourt picked up 5 points across two ‘B’ finals.
The team adds Tanner Braughton, who has seen success at the national level despite only taking up diving a few years ago, and All-American Pierce Brooke.
The relays looked to be in rough shape heading into last season after some key departures, and the outlook is even bleaker this season, as the Longhorns need to replace 13 out of 20 relay legs.
Luke Hobson is the only returner from either the 200 or 400 free relays. As we said in the sprint section, Will Modglin and Nate Germonprez could join him on either. Beyond that, you have a slew of guys in the 19-mid and 43-mid range. It took a 1:16.66 and 2:50.03 to score last year. If you do the math, Texas runs the risk of not scoring in either without some marked development from the sprint corps.
On the positive side, the Longhorns have owned the 800 free relay for most of the last decade, and they are still in solid shape despite losing both Peter Larson and Carson Foster. Germonprez should replace Larson’s 1:33.14 split. If Foster had returned, this is a group that could’ve taken another run at the all-time record and would be the prohibitive favorites to win. Losing Foster will cost roughly 4 seconds, but there are enough guys in the 1:34 range that this is still probably a top-4 relay
The medley relays both look to be up in the air. Modglin will represent an immediate improvement in backstroke; his 45.0 100 time is almost a second faster than Carson Foster led off at NCAAs last year. Losing Caspar Corbeau and Will Chan hurts, and it’s not immediately clear who will swim breaststroke. Germonprez looks to be the obvious solution for the 400, but don’t be surprised if a sprinter like Peter Paulus jumps in for the 200, especially if Germonprez races the 800 free relay. Cole Crane will presumably retain his position as the flyer on the 400, and he may swim the 200 as well. Hobson anchored the 400 medley relay last year, and he’s the only man on the roster with a sub-19 50 free split to his name. But presumably, the Longhorns will look for someone else to step up and anchor the 200 meddler relay so Hobson doesn’t have to double on night one. But right now, there’s no clear leading candidate.
Total Stars: 21.5/40
Despite all the losses, there’s still a ton of talent on this team. But even over just the last couple of season, we’ve seen a huge leap forward across many teams in the college swimming scene, and unless something unexpected happens, the Longhorns are facing their lowest finish in almost two decades.
Luke Hobson is the only Longhorn who feels like a lock for two ‘A’ finals. Guys like Coby Carrozza, Will Modglin, Alec Enyeart, etc., could certainly join that group, although that’s not something you can count on. In the best case scenario, Texas is looking at maybe 100 individual points. Diving should come through again, so let’s add another 45 points there.
The deciding factor could be how the relays develop. Last year, Texas scraped together 124 relay points. Let’s say they manage to fill the relay spots and just hold onto last year’s points. That’s a total score of approximately 270 points. Last year, that score would’ve put them 7th, nearly 100 points behind Florida and about 55 points ahead of Tennessee.
Could the team do something special for Eddie’s last season and have the kind of season where everyone is firing on all cylinders? Sure, we’ve seen it before. But from a purely objective look, the Longhorns seem like they’re in a very real danger of falling out of the top five for the first time in some of the freshmen’s lifetimes.
MEN’S PREVIEW INDEX:
|Team||Sprint Free||Distance Free||Backstroke||Breaststroke||Butterfly||IM||Diving||Relays||Total Stars|
|#3 Texas Longhorns||★★★||★★★½||★★★||★||★★||★||★★★★||★★★||21.5/40|
|#4 Indiana Hoosiers||★★★||★★★★||★★★||★★★||★★★★★||★||★★★★★||★★★★||28/40|
|#5 NC State Wolfpack||★★★||★★★★★||★★★½||★★||★★★★★||★★★||★||★★★★||26.5/40|
|#6 Florida Gators||★★★★||★★★||★★||★★★||★★★★||★★||★||★★★★★||24/40|
|#7 Tennessee Volunteers||★★★★||★||★★||★½||★★★||★★||★★★||★★★½||20/40|
|#8 Stanford Cardinal||★★||★★★||★★★||★★||★★★||★★★||★★★||★★★||22/40|
|#9 Virginia Tech Hokies||★★★||★||★★½||★★★||★★★||★★★||★||★★★½||20/40|
|#10 Auburn Tigers||★||★★||★★★½||★||★★||★||★||★★★½||15/40|
|#11 Ohio State Buckeyes||★★★||★★★||★||★||★||★||★★★★||★||15/40|
|#12 Georgia Bulldogs||★★||★★★★||★★★★||★||★||★★★||★||★★★||19/40|