The defending NCAA champion Texas Longhorns wasted no time in proving they’re still the cream of the NCAA crop, posting a plethora of insane early-season times at the Orange-White Intrasquad Meet.
The highlight of the night (if we have to pick just one) was a ridiculous 100 fly battle between the two best returning swimmers in the NCAA: Jack Conger and Joseph Schooling.
Schooling was the NCAA champ last year, but Conger pulled off the Intrasquad win as both men blasted 45 second races. Conger was 45.43 and Schooling 45.67. For reference, those times are faster than anyone in the NCAA besides those two went in all of the 2014 regular season up to the conference championship period. Conger was three tenths faster than he went at last year’s mid-season rest meet, and Schooling was just a tenth off his time from last December.
They’re also both under the NCAA “A” cut, meaning if the times from this meet are official in terms of NCAA qualifying, both men have already booked their tickets to the big show next March. Typically, “A” cuts and automatic NCAA-qualifying bids don’t start happening until November or later.
The times all-around were bordering on absurd for the Longhorns at this early point of the year. Freshman Townley Haas, one of the top recruits in the nation last recruiting season, belted a 1:34.84 to win the 200 free – that’s only about a second and a half away from the “A” cut and only a few tenths off the final time invited to NCAAs last year.
Haas also won the 500 free in 4:20.89. That’s yet another nation-leading time, and topped the reigning NCAA champ in the event, Clark Smith. Smith, a junior, went 4:22.32.
NCAA 400 IM and 200 breast champ Will Licon swam and won the 100 breast, going a 53.92 that should put him at the top of the NCAA rankings for quite some time. One event earlier, freshman Ryan Harty popped off a 46.45 to win the 100 backstroke.
Harty would win two more events on the night, going 1:44.74 in the 200 IM (and beating Licon’s 1:45.05) and taking the 200 back in 1:42.84.
Licon came back to win the 200 breast late for his second victory. He was 1:58.01. Licon wasn’t really challenged in that event and now leads the NCAA handily.
One race after that excellent 100 fly battle, another rivalry matchup stepped up with the NCAA 500 free champ Clark Smith and senior Sam Lewis in the 1000 free. Smith ultimately touched out Lewis by just a tenth, 9:06.05 to 9:06.18.
Conger got his second win by taking the 200 fly in 1:42.60. Conger is the American record-holder in the event, though not the NCAA record-holder, as his best swim was done in a time trial at Big 12s that didn’t count for NCAA records.
Two men dipped under 20 seconds in the 50 free, with Schooling picking up the win. He was 19.91 with sophomore Brett Ringgold 19.97. Freshman Tate Jackson was just on the other side of 20 with a 20.01.
The 100 free went to Matt Ellis in 44.23, touching out the 44.36 from John Murray and the 44.78 from freshman John Shebat. Jackson was also under 45 with a 44.89.
Cory Bowersox won both diving events, which featured only 3 divers.
The Orange team ultimately won the meet on the backs of Conger, Harty and Licon, but the White team took the 200 free relay to end the meet. Schooling, Ellis, Shebat and Jackson were 1:18.84 with Schooling leading off in another 19.91 (exactly tying his individual 50 free time) and the freshmen Shebat and Jackson each splitting 19.4.
White’s relay was 1:19.41, with Haas splitting 19.45 on the anchor leg.