Texas freshman Daniel Krueger returned to competition today as the Texas Longhorns took on the Auburn Tigers at Auburn this afternoon in both teams’ first meet of the new calendar year.
The Longhorns are likely facing another tight contest against the Cal Bears come March’s NCAA championships, and Krueger’s absence from the Texas Hall of Fame Invite was one of the small hiccups for the Longhorns in what was otherwise a very strong meet.
Krueger’s Instagram account indicated that he missed Texas’s taper meet because of illness, but there’d been no official word on how long he’d be out of training or competition.
It turned out that it wasn’t that long of an absence after all. Today he anchored the Longhorns’ medley relay in 19.82, finished 3rd in the individual 50 free with a time of 20.60, and took 4th in the 100 free with a 44.88. During the fall, all of Krueger’s individual 50 free swims were between 20.00 and 20.36, and all of his 100 individual free swims were between 44.04 and 44.49, according the USA Swimming database, so while today’s times are a little slower, they could be mostly attributed to some heavy winter training.
Krueger arrived in Austin as arguably the top free sprinter among NCAA freshmen, coming in with best times of 19.48 and 42.50. Teammate Drew Kibler came in with roughly similar times of 19.38 and 42.90, and dropped to 19.35 and 42.15 this fall. That would seem to suggest that a healthy Krueger could be in line to score NCAA points in at least the 100 free, but Texas probably needs him even more on the relays. He was a stalwart on the 200 medley, 200 free, and 400 free relays all fall, and he could conceivably anchor the Longhorns’ 400 medley relay as well, depending on how coach Eddie Reese decides to construct his relay lineups. All said, Krueger is probably worth at least 10-20 points (and possibly many more) to the Longhorns come NCAAs, and Texas may need every single one of those points, especially if Hugo Gonzalez is cleared to swim for Cal this semester.