It’s that time of the year again. SwimSwam will be previewing the top 12 men’s and women’s teams (and then some) from the 2022 NCAA Championships. Follow along with the College Swimming Preview Channel. Want to read even more? Check out the latest edition of the SwimSwam magazine.
#2 Texas Longhorns
Key Additions: #12 Charlie Crosby (MN – free/back), HM Alec Enyeart (MO – distance free), BOTR Alec Filipovic (IL – free/fly/IM), BOTR Ryan Branon (MD – fly), Will Chan (Michigan grad transfer – breast) , Peter Paulus (Colorado Transfer – sprint free)
Three years ago, we unveiled a new, more data-based grading criteria based on ‘projected returning points’, a stat of our own making that involved a lot of manual calculations involving departing seniors, redshirts, freshmen, etc. We liked the objectiveness of that stat, but given that there’s still a lot of uncertainty for this year, we’re adopting a hybrid approach this year. The “stars” will rely heavily on what swimmers actually did last year, but we’ll also give credit to returning swimmers or freshmen who have times that would have scored last year.
Since we only profile the top 12 teams in this format, our grades are designed with that range in mind. In the grand scheme of college swimming and compared to all other college programs, top 12 NCAA programs would pretty much all grade well across the board. But in the interest of making these previews informative, our grading scale is tough – designed to show the tiers between the good stroke groups, the great ones, and the 2015 Texas fly group types.
- 5 star (★★★★★) – a rare, elite NCAA group projected to score 25+ points per event
- 4 star (★★★★) – a very, very good NCAA group projected to score 15-24 points per event
- 3 star (★★★) – a good NCAA group projected to score 5-14 points per event
- 2 star (★★) – a solid NCAA group projected to score 1-4 points per event
- 1 star (★) – an NCAA group that is projected to score no points per event, though that doesn’t mean it’s without potential scorers – they’ll just need to leapfrog some swimmers ahead of them to do it
We’ll grade each event discipline: sprint free (which we define to include all the relay-distance freestyle events, so 50, 100 and 200), distance free, IM, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and diving. Use these grades as a jumping-off point for discussion, rather than a reason to be angry.
Once again, the Longhorns started the fall with some ridiculously-fast swimming that they sustained throughout the season. Carson Foster swam a 3:40 400 IM in a brief at the Virginia-Texas dual meet. Luke Hobson burst onto the scene at the Minnesota Invite by shattering Michael Phelps’ 17-18 NAG in the 500 free. Texas once again qualified more men for NCAAs than they could take due to roster limits, although not as many as in in 2021.
The NCAA Championships got underway well enough, as the Longhorns once again broke the US Open Record in the 800 free relay. From there, the big names largely delivered. Carson Foster, David Johnston, and Drew Kibler all made three ‘A’ finals, transfer Cameron Auchinachie nearly got under 18.0 anchoring the 200 medley relay, and the Longhorns capped off the meet with a win in the 400 free relay.
But unlike in 2021, where every single man on the roster scored, the secondary cast never quite got the momentum going. It wasn’t so much that they swam badly, per se, but the surge of returners after missing the 2021 championships due to COVID or Olympic preparation led to some incredibly fast times across the board. Case in point — freshman Anthony Grimm swam a lifetime best of 19.37 in the prelims of the 50 free. In 2021, that would’ve put him in the ‘B’ final. In 2022, that time was only 30th.
Additionally, the diving crew, missing star Jordan Windle due to a SafeSport investigation, didn’t haul in the points we’re used to seeing, netting only 11 points. Had the diving team matched the 80 or so points they’d scored the previous several NCAAs, that would’ve been enough to make up the deficit to Cal.
All told, Texas ended up 51 points behind the Bears in the team standings. Those two teams have finished in the top two every year since Michigan won in 2013, and Cal and Texas have now alternated the last four titles.
Sprint Free: ★★★
It’s rather jarring to do the math and realize that the Longhorns only return 17 points across these three events. We did an in-depth look at the 50 and 100 freestyles just a month ago, so we’ll keep that part pretty short…maybe.
You can’t overstate just how important Daniel Krueger‘s decision to use his fifth year of eligibility is for this team. He’s the only returning Texas scorer in either the 50 or the 100 free. He should be a lock to make the ‘A’ final in the 100 — he’s made it every year he’s competed — and has scored before in the 50. He’ll also provide a steadying force to four Longhorn relays.
It gets really sketchy after that. Anthony Grimm is the next-fastest man in the 50 free after going 19.37 last year. That’s still a good bit off what it took to score at NCAAs last year, but it’s close enough that he could be a potential scorer. Grimm didn’t swim an event on day four, and his best of 44.18 in the 100 free is even further off from scoring.
Zac Van Zandt is the only returner besides Krueger who swam both the 50 and the 100 free last year, and he owns lifetime bests of 19.63/42.85. Peter Larson has some sprint chops, with bests of 19.45/42.74. He may end up being a free relay option, but swims the 500 free and 200 back at championship meets. However, he’s been 1:32.53 in the 200, a time that got him into the ‘A’ final in 2021.
Larson helps us segue to the 200 free, which may be the event for which Texas is best known. That was on display this summer, where former Longhorn Drew Kibler and current swimmers Carson Foster and Coby Carrozza all made the USA Worlds team in the 4×200 free relay, while Luke Hobson made the National Team in the 200 free.
Foster most likely won’t drop the 400 IM for the 200 free, but he’ll continue to be a mainstay of the Texas 4×200 free relay, where he’s been 1:31.05 on a relay start. Hobson made the ‘B’ final last year with a 1:32.31, and his 1:30.84 relay split suggests he could make the ‘A’ final. While Hobson swam the 1650 last season, his long course 100 free this summer suggests he could follow Townley Haas’ example and drop the 1650 for the 100 free down the road.
Carrozza owns a best of 1:32.56 in yards, and he’s made the ‘B’ final the last two years. Carrozza and Foster could also be out-of-the-box options for the Longhorns’ 400 free relay.
There’s plenty of incoming sprint free talent, although none that seems likely to make an immediate impact in terms of individual NCAA scoring. Charlie Crosby has been 19.57/44.10, and that 50 free time ranks him #4 on the Texas depth chart heading into the season, so he’ll probably get a look for the 200 free relay. Grad transfer Will Chan, primarily a breaststroker, has been 19.56 in the individual 50 free and split 19.19 on Michigan’s 200 free relay last year.
Alec Filipovic is a little stronger than Crosby in the 100, having been 20.00/43.67, while there are a few other freshmen in the 20/44 range. South African Kobe Ndebele arrived on campus in the spring, and while he apparently redshirted, he swam at the American Short Course Championship, going 20.10/43.48.
Another intriguing developmental piece is Colorado transfer Peter Paulus. Read his full story here, but he was the College Club National champion in the 50 free, and watch for him to rapidly improve his bests of 20.19/46.14.
Distance Free: ★★★★★
This is a pretty beastly group, led by the duo of David Johnston and Luke Hobson. Johnston finished sixth in the 500 free and fifth in the 1650 at NCAAs. He followed that up a with a strong summer that included setting an American Record in the short course 800m freestyle while in Australia.
Hobson followed a similar path as Johnston — coming on strong as a high senior and then continuing to quickly develop in Austin. Hobson went ham at the Minnesota Invite, first splitting a 1:31 on Texas’ ‘B’ 800 free relay, and then twice breaking the 17-18 NAG in the 500 free. He kept rolling at NCAAs, taking third in the 500 and 16th in the 1650. He just missed missing the US’s Worlds Team, but put up a massive 1:45.59 200-meter time at the Duel In the Pool, forcing his way on the US National Team.
Fifth-year Alex Zettle feels like a bit of a microcosm of Texas’ ups and downs over the last few years. He didn’t score any points at NCAAs as a freshman, pulled in 11 points in 2021, and then didn’t score last year. His lifetime bests of 4:13.01/14:41.04 would’ve put him in the top 16 in both events last season.
Ethan Heasley has been 4:16.06/14:48.10, and that 1650 time, from December 2020, is good enough to score. However, he was cut from Texas’ NCAA roster in 2021 despite being seeded to score in both the 1650 and the 400 IM. He couldn’t match those times last season, but could contribute if he’s back on form this year.
Freshman Alec Enyeart feels like he could be on a similar trajectory to Johnston and Hobson. He represented the US at Junior Pan Pacs last month, earning three medals, and also made the senior National Team in the 1500m free. And he’s no slouch in yards — his 1650 best of 14:56.69 is less than two seconds shy of a NCAA qualifying time, and he’s also been 4:20.49/9:03.39.
Another freshman, Alexander Lyubavskiy, hails from Russia, and his SCM times of 3:54.97/8:03.91/15:17.15 indicate that he may be more of a developmental piece than an immediate impact swimmer.
The Longhorns haven’t had a really strong two-distance backstroker since John Shebat graduated, but they still have solid depth here. Carson Foster finished second after hitting a lifetime best of 1:38.00 in prelims. He’s a lock to hit the ‘A’ final, and should be in the mix for the national title.
Christopher O’Connor hit lifetime bests of 46.36/1:40.47 last season after transferring from Alabama. He didn’t clock either of those time at NCAAs, but that 200 time from the American Short Course Champs would’ve put him ninth in prelims at NCAAs. Ethan Harder has yet to swim at NCAAs despite qualifying three times, but he has essentially the same times as O’Connor at 46.14/1:40.84.
Rising sophomore Anthony Grimm isn’t too far off from scoring in the 100 back after finishing 19th last season with a new best time of 45.44. Peter Larson‘s 200 best of 1:41.14 from 2021 is just outside what it took to score last year.
Freshman Charlie Crosby is a strong sprint backstroker, arriving on campus having already been 21.32 in the 50 and 46.41 in the 100.
The last few years Texas has made clear that it doesn’t have to take long to turn a weakness into a strength. It wasn’t all that long ago that the Longhorns didn’t have a single scorer in this discipline. Last year, they had hauled in 35 points, and there’s the potential for more.
Rising senior Caspar Corbeau led the way with a second-place finish in the 100, setting a Texas record at 50.49, and a sixth-place showing in the 200 breast, where he went 1:50.79 after going 1:50.51 in prelims.
Jake Foster scored points with a 12th-place finish in the 200. He set a PR of 1:51.40 in prelims before going 1:51.82 in finals.
Fifth-year Braden Vines scored in 2021, and his best time of 1:52.28 would’ve put him in the consolation final of the 200 had he matched that time last season.
The group gets a potential boost with the addition of grad transfer Will Chan. He didn’t earn any points last year while swimming for Michigan, but his lifetime best of 50.95 would make the ‘A’ final, and he also has been 1:53.27 in the 200. He generally hasn’t matched his season bests at NCAAs, and as a result hasn’t scored prolifically. Since he only went 52.0 last season, we’ll leave it at four stars for now, but this group definitely has five-star potential.
Rising senior Paul Degrado has the next best times on the team at 53.09/1:54.76 and wouldn’t take too much improvement to nab an NCAA invite.
The once-legendary Texas butterfly group only has a single returning scoring swim from last year. That’s a 12th-place effort in the 100 fly by rising junior Zac Van Zandt, who hit a lifetime best of 45.07 in prelims before fading just a smidge in finals. Van Zandt looks primed to totally take over butterfly duties from Alving Jiang this year.
With Tim Connery’s transfer, the next-fastest man on the team will be Cole Crane, yet another 2021 casualty of the 18-athlete-per-team max at NCAAs. Crane owns bests of 45.84 and 1:42.21, with that 200 time coming from 2021.
The versatile Anthony Grimm has been 46.07 in the 100, and could also probably throw down a nasty 200 medley relay split if necessary.
Coby Carrozza has swum the 200 fly at NCAAs as a third event, and has a best of 1:42.96, although you have to wonder if he may switch to the 100 free at some point. Ethan Harder tends to focus more on backstroke, but he’s been 1:42.18.
Freshman Holden Smith arrived on campus last semester, but did not officially compete for Texas. In the meantime, he clocked a lifetime best of 46.84 in the 100 and has been 1:44.29 in the 200. Fellow freshman Ryan Branon arrives with bests of 47.53 and 1:44.00.
This may be the premier IM group in the nation. Carson Foster leads the way after taking sixth in the 200 IM and third in the 400 IM last year. He didn’t hit his best times (1:40.07/3:33.79) in finals for either event, but he had a breakthrough summer in long course in that respect, and if that carries over to short course, he should challenge for a national title in at least the 400.
Older brother Jake Foster also scored in both IMs, finishing eighth in the 200 (1:40.63) and fifth in the 400, where he has a best time of 3:37.33. Foster made the US National Team in the 400 IM, giving the Longhorns five 2022-2023 National Teamers in total.
Caspar Corbeau and Braden Vines added points by making the 200 IM ‘B’ final. Corbeau’s best is a swift 1:40.98, which he clocked in prelims, while Vines hit a lifetime best of 1:42.35 before finishing just shy of that in finals.
While David Johnston is primarily known for his distance freestyle exploits, he’s an accomplished 400 IMer, and he made the ‘A’ final for the second straight year last season. He went a best of 3:38.90 in prelims before fading a bit in finals. Vines has a lifetime best of 3:40.09 from late 2019, and that’d get him into the ‘B’ final if he can match it.
The aforementioned Ethan Heasley has a lifetime best 3:43.35, also from December 2020, which would’ve put him just under the 400 IM cut line last season.
Diving has long been an integral part of the Longhorns’ success at lassoing national titles, but this discipline took a big step back last year. Yes, they were without fifth-year Jordan Windle, who was suspended by the US Center for Safe Sport pending an investigation and did not compete during the spring.
In 2021, non-Windle divers scored 31 points. Last year, those same three divers only netted 11 points.
Rising junior Noah Duperre leads the returners in points accumulated over the last two championships, having earned 23 in 2021 and 7 last season. The difference came from the 1m, where he finished second in 2021, but didn’t make it out prelims last year. Considering that he finished roughly the same in the 3m both years, watch for him to rebound in the 1m this season.
The Longhorns return three of the four men who set the all-time record in the 800 free relay — Carson Foster, Luke Hobson, and Coby Carrozza. All three had great summers and were among the top men in the US in LCM. They’ll probably be joined this year by Peter Larson, whose lifetime best of 1:32.53 is roughly two seconds slower than the man he’ll be replacing, Drew Kibler. They have enough of a cushion that they’re still the clear favorites, although it could be a closer race than last year.
With Daniel Krueger’s return, the medley relays look solid again. Most likely they’ll trot out a lineup of Anthony Grimm, Caspar Corbeau, Zac Van Zandt, and Krueger. Losing Cameron Auchinachie on free for the 200 and back on the 400 may mean there’s a small drop, but they should both be top-five teams.
However, the 200 and 400 free relays are a different story after the loss of Kibler and Auchinachie. Krueger and Corbeau should again swim on both of those, and that’s a great start. But it’s not entirely clear who will join them. We delved into this conundrum a bit a month ago, so we won’t repeat all that here.
There are a bunch of men in the 19-mid range, led by sophomore Anthony Grimm, who went 19.37 last season. The other men who could be in the mix include Peter Larson (19.45), Will Chan (19.56), Charlie Crosby (19.57), Van Zandt (19.63), and Peter Paulus, who’s only been 20.0, but could be in store for some big drops in his first season of NCAA swimming.
The 400 free relay could be in store for an even bigger drop in the rankings, as best times indicate that they’re looking at a three-second delta from last season. The top candidates are once again Larson (42.74) and Van Zandt (42.85), while there are several guys in the 43 range (e.g., Kobe Ndebele, Carson Foster, Carrozza) who could force their way into the lineup.
Total Stars: 29/40
It feels like there’s not much new to say here. Texas has an immensely talented team. If they come into NCAAs on fire, they’ll most likely win, especially if Cal doesn’t get Hugo Gonzalez back. If Texas swims just decently and gets some additional points from the diving corps, it’ll most likely be a dogfight with Cal for first.
The core guys like the Foster brothers, Corbeau, Johnston, and Hobson should all deliver. The rest of the likely national qualifiers — the likes of Carrozza, Grimm, Larson, Van Zandt, and O’Connor — may determine the ultimate outcome. If they can step up and score, especially in multiple events, that will put the Longhorns on the right track.
Diving may not quite reach the 80-point heights it did a few years ago, but it should be better than last year. Likewise, besides the 800 free relay, the relays don’t feel like title contenders, but they should all be top 8 again.
The most likely outcome is that swim fans are in store for another swimming equivalent of a bare-knuckle brawl between the two teams that have dominated Division I men’s swimming & diving for the last decade or so. There’s only six months remaining until that showdown in Minneapolis, and it’ll come quick.
|Team||Sprint Free||Distance Free||Backstroke||Breaststroke||Butterfly||IM||Diving||Relays||Total Stars|
|#2 Texas Longhorns||★★★||★★★★★||★★★||★★★★||★★||★★★★★||★★★||★★★★||29/40|
|#3 Florida Gators||★★★★||★★★★||★★||★★½||★★★★||★★½||★★★||★★★★★||27/40|
|#4 NC State Wolfpack||★★★★||★★★★★||★★★★||★||★★★||★★||★||★★★★★||25/40|
|#5 Indiana Hoosiers||★★★||★★★★||★★★||★★★||★★★★||★||★★★★||★★★||25/40|
|#6 Arizona State Sun Devils||★★★||★★||★★★||★★★½||★★★½||★★★★★||★||★★★★||25/40|
|#7 Stanford Cardinal||★★||★★★||★★★||★★||★★★||★★★||★||★★★★||21/40|
|#8 Georgia Bulldogs||★★★||★★★★||★★||★||★★★||★★★||★||★★★||20/40|
|#9 Ohio State Buckeyes||★★★||★★★||★||★★||★★||★★||★★★★||★★★||20/40|
|#10 Virginia Cavaliers||★★★★||★||★★★||★★||★||★||★||★★★★||17/40|
|#11 Virginia Tech Hokies||★★★||★||★★||★★★||★★★||★★★||★||★★||18/40|
|#12 Louisville Cardinals||★★★||★||★||★★||★||★||★||★★★||13/40|