College Swimming Previews: #1 Texas Men Wrangling Threepeat Dynasty

We’ll be previewing the top 10 men’s and women’s programs from the 2016 NCAA Championships – stay tuned to our College Swimming Previews channel to catch all 20. Can’t get enough college swimming? Check out the College Preview issue of SwimSwam Magazine for more team previews and power rankings of every major Division I conference.

Key Losses: John Murray (26.5 NCAA pts.), Matt Ellis (6 NCAA pts.), Cory Bowersox (25 NCAA pts.)

Key Additions: Sam Stewart (transfer, IM/back), Jack Lanphear (breast)

2015-16 LOOKBACK:

The Texas Longhorns brought home their 2nd-straight NCAA Championship last season, breaking a slew of records in the process. Will Licon, Joseph Schooling, Jack Conger, and Townley Haas all set new NCAA and/or American Records individually. Additionally, their 800 free relay cleared the old NCAA Record mark by almost 2 seconds.

Texas didn’t just win NCAAs, they dominated, beating second-place Cal by almost 190 points and all but wrapping up the meet by the halfway point.

SPRINT FREE: A-

Brett Ringgold (19.0/41.6) and Tate Jackson (19.2/42.9) are the key sprinters for Texas, with Ringgold being a likely A-finalist in both the 50 and 100 freestyles with his best times. Jackson is a few tenths shy of what it took to score in the 100 last year, but he’s already fast enough to score in the 50.

Now that John Murray and Matt Ellis have graduated, Jackson may be stepping into a 200 free relay role alongside Ringgold, Jack Conger, and Joseph Schooling. Though they don’t specialize in the sprints, Schooling and Conger have been some of the fastest relay swimmers for Texas. Conger has been as fast as 18.5 and 40.9 on his splits, while Schooling has been 41.7.

Other options for the relays include Townley Haas (20.2/42.4), John Shebat (20.0/44.8), and Jeremy Nichols (20.1/43.8).

Townley Haas giving the horns after his 500 free win. Photo Credits: Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com

Townley Haas (Photo: Tim Binning)

DISTANCE FREE: A+

Despite a disappointing performance at 2016 NCAAs, Clark Smith (1:33.3/4:08.8/14:31.2) should be in the conversation for the 500 and 1650 freestyle titles. If he returns to form, he and Townley Haas (1:30.4/4:09.0/14:34.3) should have some great distance free battles.

In the 200, however, Haas has looked practically untouchable in yards since he obliterated the American Record last season.

Jonathan Roberts (1:34.5/4:13.1) has a shot to make it into the top 8 of the 500 free if he goes his best time. He and P.J. Dunne (1:34.4/4:23.6) are also closing in on scoring range in the 200 free, as it took a 1:34.2 to get 16th last season.

The Longhorns should have no trouble pulling in 800 free relay points at NCAAs. Between Smith, Haas, and Jack Conger (1:31.8), 3/4 of the current Longhorns’ 800 free relay was a part of the Team USA prelims relay that helped the team to Olympic Gold this summer. Joseph Schooling will also return for that relay after splitting a 1:32-low last season. Those 4 will take a shot at lowering the NCAA record they set last season.

IM: A

Will Licon (1:40.0/3:36.3) is a title contender in both IMs this season after winning the 400 IM in 2015 and the 200 IM in 2016. Licon will have his hands full with Chase Kalisz returning, but that hasn’t stopped him before.

Ryan Harty (1:42.8/3:42.7) and Jonathan Roberts (3:41.5) were IM scorers for the Longhorns last season. Harty has the speed to score in both IMs, while Roberts’ best time in the 400 makes him a potential championship finalist.

Joseph Schooling (1:42.6) is fast enough to score in the 200 IM, which he swam his freshman season. He decided not to swim it last season, however, opting out of a 3rd event in order to focus on the fly races and the relays.

NCAA qualifier Sam Stewart (1:46.4/3:45.3) is transferring in from Auburn, and could shape up to be a 400 IM scorer for the Longhorns with some improvement.

BUTTERFLY: A+

Over the last two seasons, Jack Conger (44.5/1:38.0) and Joseph Schooling (44.0/1:37.9) have gone 1-2 in 3 of the 4 fly races they’ve raced in, coming within 0.12 seconds of each other in each of them. The powerhouse butterfly duo is a big asset for the Longhorns in the points battle.

Will Glass (45.4/1:43.7) has finished in the top 8 at NCAAs in the 100 fly before, but he was off his best last year. If he can bring his times back down, the Longhorns could put 3 up into the final.

Brett Ringgold (46.2) and Max Holter (47.2/1:43.3) are just outside of what it took to score in the 100 and 200, respectively. They’ll look to move into the top 16 to pick up some individual fly points.

BACKSTROKE: A-

John Shebat (45.3/1:40.1) and Ryan Harty (45.3/1:39.1) are both possible A-finalists in the backstrokes for Texas. Harty didn’t swim the 100 back at NCAAs, but he’s already finished in the top 8 in the 200. Shebat was just shy of the top 8 in both the 100 and the 200, though his best time in the 100 would have gotten him in. He could find himself in both championship finals with marginal improvements.

Jonathan Roberts (1:41.2) is just out of scoring range in the 200 back, but will be in contention for the top 16 if he can knock off half a second.

Will Licon (Photo: Tim Binning)

Will Licon (Photo: Tim Binning)

BREASTSTROKE: A-

The Longhorns have the 200 breast American Record holder in Will Licon (52.9/1:48.1), who will be searching for back-to-back titles in the event this season. He’s also likely to contribute to their 400 medley relay, having split 50.6 at NCAAs last season.

Licon hasn’t swum the 100 breast individually in the post-season, but Austin Temple (52.3/1:56.8) gives the longhorns a 52-low 100 breaststroker, and his best time would’ve landed him in the top 8 last season.

Imri Ganiel (53.1/1:55.5) is just outside of scoring range in the 200 breast, so he’ll need to shave off a couple tenths to make the top 16.

The Longhorns will have a fresh face as Jack Lanphear (54.8/2:01.2 breast) joins them this season. Lanphear doesn’t have times good enough to score at NCAAs yet, but he looks to be in good shape for the conference meet.

2016-17 OUTLOOK:

The Longhorns are in the hunt for an NCAA threepeat this season, and they have very few weaknesses. It looks like they have a threat for an NCAA event title in at least 8 different events through Joseph Schooling, Jack Conger, Clark Smith, Townley Haas, and Will Licon. Their sprint relays may have taken a hit with the graduation loss of John Murray, but they should be able to make up for the missing link with Tate Jackson.

Though Cal’s great recruiting class means Texas will probably face a bigger challenge than last year, there’s still really no way to at the ‘Horns as anything but strong NCAA title favorites. And the conversation has now begun to shift to a historical one: is this Texas team the greatest in NCAA history? Another resounding NCAA win could go a long way in supporting that argument.

 

AB

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43 Comments on "College Swimming Previews: #1 Texas Men Wrangling Threepeat Dynasty"

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No way anyone touches Texas this year. Don’t @ me

I bet Licon swims the 100 breast this year. Last year it was one of the weakest events at NCAAs. 51.2 won it, and Licon’s 50.6 split was the fastest of the meet. The competition will be much tougher in the 400 IM, especially with Kalisz back in town.

Will this finally be the year Conger wins an individual?

I agree, I think he opts out of the 400IM since his breaststroke is really starting to take off. Murphy is really his only major competition in the 200IM, but the 400IM is super loaded this year. If Licon swims it there’ll be Kalisz, Licon, Seliskar, Litherland, Bentz, and others like Szaranek and Ogren. Bentz and Licon could opt out (200fr, 100br respectively) which would obviously lessen the impact, but still a potentially incredible race. As far as Conger is concerned, it’s tough to say. He was able rebound big time last year after a disappointing 100 fly, then a huge 200 fly. If he goes 44.4 or faster in the 100 fly, that might give him enough “juice” to… Read more »

I agree with the potential of Licon in the 100. I wonder if Seliskar will consider that as well, since he was 51.8 in high school.

I doubt Schooling would switch over to the 100 free. Let’s put it this way: it would be a huge upset for him to get 3rd in the 200 fly. But I could see him getting 3rd in the 100 free at best vs. the B-final at worst.

I have a sad feeling conger will never win an individual title

Neither did Ricky Berens, but both guys have had great careers and reached the top of the sport.

It just sucks for him that in his two best strokes the fastest people in history are in college with him. He’s a incredible freestyler but Haas is better he’s a fantastic 500 freestyler but again Haas is better as is Clark. Probably can go to work in the 100 free but Dressel is another level. Conger suffers from Ryan Lochte syndrome second best always

He’s also a stud backstroker… But Murphy

Lochte does have 2 individual olympic golds and a bunch of world championship golds to his name, plus 3 textile WR and one all-time WR. If that’s Conger’s career path he could do a whole lot worse

To be honest.

I dont think of Conger like that. He has the potential to win a few events…. out of high school him and murphy were neck and neck and its not like he has been swimming bad…. He has some time to develop into a champ.

Best of luck U can do it!!!!!

He can maybe and I mean maybe beat Schooling but Murphy is unbeatable

No one is unbeatable

Maybe if Murphy swam with cinder blocks to his legs while being blind folded and wearing a jacket and jeans

IDK man no one thought Josh Schneider would beat Nathan Adrian back in 2010. I’m not saying I expect Murphy to lose but stranger things have happened

Schneider had already been a 19 low freestyler. Someone who’s best is a 45.32 beating someone nearly 2 seconds faster and the world record holder is the strangest thing

Actually an even better example was Cordes losing the 200 breast when he was 2 seconds faster than everyone else coming into the year. Licon had a huge drop and Cordes was a little off his best. These things happen

Not a world record holder

Honestly won’t feel bad of Conger never wins an individual.

Also look out for Peter Stevens, he split a 50.3 in the 400 medley prelims

Ryan Harty = wrecked

What is up with Harty?

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About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona and the University of Florida. She got her M.S. in Criminology from Florida State and seems exceptionally confused about which team she should cheer for during the college football season. Lauren is currently working on her M.A. in …

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