Christopher O’Connor, who entered the NCAA transfer portal last month after one year at the University of Alabama, announced Sunday that he will be transferring to the University of the Texas.
I am excited to announce that I will continue my athletic and academic career at the University of Texas! I want to thank everyone who has helped me through my journey and, I can’t wait to see what’s in store! Hook’em 🤘🏻
O’Connor is primarily a backstroker, and swam in the B-finals of both the 100 and 200 backstrokes at the 2021 SEC Men’s Championships in February.
|PB AT TIME OF COMMITMENT||PB PRIOR TO ALABAMA||PB AT ALABAMA|
|100 yard back||49.06||47.78||47.1o|
|200 yard back||1:53.85||1:49.95||1:42.23|
|100 meter back||55.39||55.39||54.85|
|200 meter back||2:03.48||2:03.48||2:00.96|
Despite strong improvements by swimmers like O’Connor and fellow freshman Matt King, the Crimson Tide has been beset by swimmers entering the transfer portal since the end of the college season. On the men’s side, that list includes O’Connor, King, Colton Stogner, Andrew Shea, Liam Bell, Alec Dixon, and Nico Hernandez-Tome. Of that group, all but O’Connor and Shea are NCAA Championship qualifiers. Bell has announced he’s transferring to California, while King is heading to Virginia.
O’Connor joins a Longhorn backstroke group that will be potentially going through some transition next season, assuming that seniors Austin Katz, Alvin Jiang and Chris Staka (who, liked O’Connor, transferred from Alabama) don’t come back for a 5th year. The NCAA granted all athletes who competed in the 2020-2021 season an additional year of eligibility, but so far we haven’t seen any indication that any of those three will take advantage of it.
The Longhorns’ backstroke group will still include Carson Foster, who’s primarily an IMer, was an A-finalist in the 200 back last season at NCAAs, and Peter Larson also returns after finishing 17th in the same event. Additionally, the Longhorns incoming freshman class is headlined by sprint backstroker Anthony Grimm.
O’Connor’s 200 back time would’ve actually finished 2nd behind Katz at the 2021 Big 12 Championships, and he was only about half a second away from earning a NCAA invite in the invite. Although, merely qualifying for NCAAs as a Longhorn isn’t enough to guarantee you’ll swim at NCAAs, as Texas left 10 qualifiers at home last season due to roster limits. Still, it certainly would not be a surprise to see O’Connor make a NCAA roster at some point during his Texas career, given his current trajectory.