Tennessee All-American Luke Percy won’t return to Tennessee for his sophomore season next year, he confirmed on Monday. That opens up a hole with one of the world’s top sprint talents deciding to remain in the Gold Coast, Australia to focus on his training there.
Percy was a 19.56 in the 50 free to miss scoring at last year’s NCAA Championship meet, but followed it with a 42.56 in the B-Final of the 100 free for 12th place. His season bests were a 19.40 and 42.22 in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles on a flat start.
He also led off Tennessee’s scoring 200 and 400 free relays, and anchored their scoring 200 and 400 medley relays.
In addition to the accolades earned as a freshman at Tennessee, Percy was also the 2013 Junior World Champion leading into his freshman campaign, beating American Caeleb Dressel in the 50 free (22.14 – long course meters).
He will now return home to his native Southport Olympic Swimming Club to chase the 2016 Olympic Games. He will be fighting through a deep Australian sprint group, but with Cameron McEvoy, among others, as a training partner, he is well situated for continued success in Australia’s senior ranks. The Australian National Championships are usually in a tough time conflict with the NCAA (American collegiate) championship meet, which can make it challenging for Australian swimmers to focus on both.
Percy swam at this year’s Australian National Championships, but coming off of NCAA’s he was far from his best. He was just 7th in the 50 free in 22.71 and was just 10th in the 100 free in 49.92.
With a year to right himself, though, Percy should be challenging for a spot on the 2015 World Championship roster, and it shouldn’t be long before he begins to earn endorsements as well.
Tennessee, who has a very good incoming freshman class, will be left with a big hole in their lineups. The top returning sprinter will be senior Troy Tillman, who was a 19.72 in the 50 free and a 43.37 in the 100 free.