We’ll be previewing the top 12 men’s and women’s programs from the 2017 NCAA Championships – stay tuned to our College Swimming Previews channel to catch all 24. Can’t get enough college swimming news? Check out the College Preview issue of SwimSwam Magazine for some inside looks at the life of a college swimmer as told by college swimmers themselves, plus full-length profiles of a few of college swimming’s biggest names, including our cover athlete, Simone Manuel.
#5 TEXAS LONGHORNS
Key Losses: Madisyn Cox (45 NCAA points, 4 NCAA relays), Tasija Karosas (22 NCAA points, 5 NCAA relays)
Key Additions: Evie Pfeifer (MO – free/IM), Ella Tierney (IL – free), Maxine Wolters (Germany – back/IM), Victoria Edwards (TX – back/fly), Kennedy Lohman (Arizona transfer – breast)
We’ve tightened up our criteria from last year, where our first stab at a letter grading system got hit by a little bit of classic grade inflation. Again, bear in mind that all of these grades are projections more than 6 months out – and as none of us has a working crystal ball, these projections are very subjective and very likely to change over the course of the season. Disagreeing with specific grades is completely acceptable; furiously lashing out at a writer, commenter or specific athlete is not.
- A = projected to score significant (10+) NCAA points per event
- B = projected to score some (3-10) NCAA points per event
- C = projected on the bubble to score likely only a few (1-2) or no NCAA points per event
- D = projected to score no NCAA points
Madisyn Cox was one of the major individual players at the 2017 NCAA Championships, racking up 45 points all on her own and setting herself up for a huge summer, where she ended up making the Worlds team and earning a bronze medal in the 200 IM in Budapest. Cox was also essential on relays, helping Texas score in four relays and serving as their medley breaststroker despite sprint breaststroke not being her forte.
The real relay hero, though, was Tasija Karosas, who dropped an individual event in order to help out on all five relays at NCAAs. She also scored in both backstrokes, including a 4th place finish in the 200 back.
Claire Adams was a high-impact addition as a freshman last year, scoring in both backstrokes (A final in the 100) and helping out on relays, while Joanna Evans and Rebecca Millard scored in multiple freestyle events, the 1650 and 200 for Evans and the 50 an 100 for Millard.
In somewhat of a controversial call, Remedy Rule was DQ’d for a 15-meter violation off the start in the 200 fly A final, which had two Longhorns, Rule and Lauren Case. Case still scored in 6th, while she nearly scored in the 500 free but was beat in a swim-off for the last B final slot.
Nonetheless, Texas had big contributions from their senior and freshman classes last year, and finished the NCAA meet in 5th (though had Rule not been DQ’d, they would’ve easily cleared Georgia for 4th).
Sprint Free: B+
3/4 of the 200 free relay returns (besides Karosas), including Millard, who scored in both sprint free events at NCAAs last year.
Adams and Rule are both strong sprinters, with Rule throwing down a 22.1 at the Texas Invite mid-season last year and Adams going 22.3 at the 2017 Big 12 Champs. The two of them, plus Millard, will be three important sprint relay pieces this season.
Freshman reinforcements are definitely here, with Evie Pfeifer and Ella Tierney at the forefront. They have nearly identical 200 free times (1:45.9 for Pfeifer, 1:46.0 for Tierney), while Pfeifer has been 49.5 and Tierney has been 49.9 in the 100. The two fastest 200 freestylers on the 800 relay last year, Cox and Karosas, graduated, so Pfeifer and Tierney come at a very opportune time.
Evans is a very capable 200 freestyler who scored in the 200 at NCAAs last year, and freshman Emily Reese, primarily a butterflier, has been 50.8 in the 100 free.
There are a lot of 100-200 or 200-500 type swimmers though, so Millard is one of the only pure sprinters who can make a difference at the national level. Mimi Schneider is back after redshirting her junior year, though, and her best times of 22.3/49.3 in the 50/100 free will certainly be of use.
Distance Free: B+
Evans finished inside the top 8 in the mile at NCAAs last year, and she’s also a force in the 500. This is where Pfeifer will have more of an impact– her 500 free (4:39.4) is already right inside B final scoring range, and it’s not usual to have freshmen coming in fast enough to score nationally.
Meanwhile, Case was about as close to B final scoring in the 500 free without actually doing so last season.
Freshmen Peyton Quattlebaum and Logan Shiller have the potential to make an impact in distance, coming in with bests of 4:48/16:33 and 4:45/17:04, respectively. Shiller has been 9:45 in the 1000, though, suggesting she could get under the 16:30 barrier in the mile. Tierney has also been 4:45 in the 500.
Quinn Carrozza has bests of 1:44.9/4:40.0 in the 200/500 free, making her a cusp scorer (she hasn’t hit those times in awhile).
Sans Cox, the IM group really suffers in Austin. Nora McCullagh went a 1:57.5 in the 200 IM at the Texas Invite last season, but gained time at nationals (though a 1:57 doesn’t score, anyways). There’s some more talent in the 200 IM incoming, with transfer Kennedy Lohman and freshman Ashley Pollok both at 2:00.
Meanwhile, Pfeifer has been 1:58.5 in the 200 and 4:12 in the 400. She’s very good at a lot of events, though, so it’s not clear if she’ll be focusing on IM yet.
German import Maxine Wolters could lead the way in the IM’s, coming in with LCM bests of 2:13/4:46 in the 200/400 IM. There’s still no expectation for national level scoring right now, though.
Rule and Case are two of the best 200 flyers in the country, and barring any DQ’s, it would be expected for both of them to score in A finals in the 200 fly at next year’s NCAAs. They both went 52.2’s at NCAAs last year, coming within just over a tenth of scoring in the B final in the 100 fly.
Mimi Schneider‘s return will boost this discipline on the Texas roster, as she’s been 52.5 in the 100 fly and is very strong in the 50, as well. She could end up being the 200 medley butterflier, seeing as Rule and Case are both specialized in longer distance races.
Freshman Victoria Edwards could end up making this a very dangerous fly group, as she brings in bests of 52.7/1:56.0. Edwards is one of the best butterfliers in the entire freshman class, and she gives the coaching staff a fourth strong option for butterfly events and relays. Another freshman, Emily Reese, has been 53.3/1:59.2, while Grace Ritch is also 1:59 in the 200.
Claire Adams will be the team’s indisputable backstroke leader with Karosas graduated, and she returns after A-finaling in the 100 back and B-finaling in the 200 back at NCAAs last year.
If Kaitlin Harty can get near her pre-college bests of 51.6/1:50.6, she will be a force (especially in the 200) of the same caliber as Adams, and an on-form Harty probably would tip the grade here in the A/A+ range.
Edwards and Pfeifer are also capable backstrokers (53.3/1:57.7 for Edwards, 53.7/1:56.5), and Wolters might find her forte in SCY here. She’s been 1:01.2/2:11 in LCM backstroke, which could translate over nicely to SCY. Finally, Quinn Carrozza has been 1:53.4 in the 200 back, which is not far off of scoring.
As Cox departs, Lohman subs in.
The Arizona transfer comes from being her previous team’s go-to breaststroker, a role she held as a freshman. Lohman is especially good at the 50 breast, making her an essential relay piece. Her lifetime best of 59.81 would’ve B-finaled at NCAAs last year in the 100, though she was just a tad slower in prelims and wound up 17th overall. She’s also been 2:10.8 in the 200 breast, not far off of scoring in that, either.
Olivia Anderson complements Lohman with bests of 1:00.0/2:11, and she’s close to scoring in the 100.
The freshman class brings in a lot of freestyle speed to a program that is already pretty loaded in the mid-distance frees, in particular. Fly and back will also be strongpoints for the Longhorn women in 2017-18.
Millard will be a key senior leader this season, with Evans, Adams, Rule, and Case returning to form the foundation of the Texas team. Should Lohman fit in well and continue to hit best times, Texas could have some seriously deadly medleys, though the freshman class, as talented as they are, will have a hard time making up the holes left behind by Cox and Karosas.