Will Licon is a breaststroke and IM specialist at the University of Texas. Licon was born Aug. 25, 1994 in the city of El Paso, Texas where he attended Vista Ridge High School. As a high school student Licon decided to not compete in the high school season, which allowed him to focus on long course swimming and the 2012 Olympic Trials. Standing 6’4″, Licon is a Big 12 Champion, NCAA DI All-American and former USA Swimming Junior National Team Member.
University of Texas
In his freshman season Licon was a standout in his recruiting class. At the NCAA Championships he placed fifth in the 400 IM in school record-setting fashion. In addition he finished 12th in the 200 breaststroke as well as 14th in the 200 IM. Prior to the NCAA Championships Licon was the Big 12 champion the 400 IM and the 200 breaststroke. In his third event he placed fourth in the 200 IM.
As a sophomore Licon qualified for the NCAA Championships two years in a row for the Longhorns. In his first event, the 200-yard IM, Licon qualified 1st out of the preliminary heats. Up against Stanford’s David Nolan, who broke the American Record just weeks before, Licon had to take advantage of Nolan’s breaststroke weakness. Nolan led the way in the first 100 yards, but Licon’s breaststroke split gained some serious yards on Nolan. With just half of a second between the two at the 150 yard mark, it came down to the last 50. Both had a fantastic freestyle split, but Licon couldn’t gain enough ground to take the win. Licon broke the American Record, but the title was awarded to Nolan since he finished 1st.
In his best event, the 400-yard IM, Licon qualified for the final two years in a row. He had a solid lead after the 100-yard breaststroke leg, and pulled a huge upset on Georgia’s Chase Kalisz — Kalisz is the American Record holder in the event. The time moved Licon to the fourth fastest performer in the event all time, and was the first time Texas had won the event in program history.
After only qualifying for the consolation final at last year’s NCAA Championships, Licon ended his meet on a high with his performance in the 200-yard breast. The event was expected to be won by Kevin Cordes, but Licon stayed with Cordes for the first 150 yards of the race. Licon stunned the crowd when he took off on the last 50 yards, and was out swimming Cordes with a great back-half. He touched out Cordes for the win, and became just the second swimmer ever to break 1:50. Licon’s impressive performance helped Texas take the national championship.
Licon had a stellar NCAA Championships, winning the 200 IM with a pool record of 1:40.04 ( beating Ryan Lochte’s previous record), and the 200 yard breaststroke, a full second ahead of 2nd place, breaking the NCAA record, pool record, and American record with a time of 1:48.12. Licon also picked up a 2nd place finish in the 400 IM.
Licon saved his best NCAA meet for his last by securing five gold medals in his senior showing to help Texas take the national title.
His first came in the 200 yard IM, but he shared the top of the podium with Florida’s Mark Szaranek. Licon was in last place at the halfway point, but a breaststroke leg that was almost a second faster than the next fastest split pulled him right into medal contention. He kept the momentum going for the final 50 yards in a very close battle for the gold. Szaranek managed to sneak in at the touch at the same time. The pair took the gold in 1:40.67. Later that night, Licon struck gold again when he joined John Shebat, Joseph Schooling and Jack Conger in the 400 yard medley relay. The quartet broke the American and NCAA record in 2:59.22.
On the second night, Licon swam the 100 yard breaststroke in 50.68 to take the gold in a new pool record. After that, he teamed up with Shebat, Schooling and Brett Ringgold in the 200 yard medley relay to take gold in a new American and NCAA record in 1:21.54.
On the final night, Licon took down another record in the 200 yard breaststroke. After cruising through the prelims, Licon stormed out to the front in the finals, building a body-length lead by the halfway point. He continued to gain strength through second half to take down his own U.S., American and NCAA record in 1:47.91, more than three seconds ahead of second place. He became the first swimmer to break the 1:48.00 barrier.
Licon is a former USA Swimming Junior National Team member, and he represented the US in the 2012 Junior Pan Pac Swimming Championships. At the Junior Pan Pac meet, Licon tied for sixth place in the 100m breaststroke.
In 2012 Licon qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials held in Omaha, Neb. He swam in the 200m breaststroke, finishing 19th, and missed qualifying for the semi-final by three places.
2016 U.S Olympic Trials
Licon missed a spot on team USA’s Olympic team by 0.14 in the 200 meter breaststroke. He finished third in 2:08.14 behind Josh Prenot and Kevin Cordes. In the 100 meter breaststroke he finished 8th in 1:00.61.
2019 Pan American Games
After qualifying for the 2019 Pan Ams, Licon made the most of his 2 events there, the 200 breast and 200 IM. Licon touched for gold in both, winning the 200 breast in 2:07.62 (a games record and lifetime best) and the 200 IM in 1:59.13.