During a press conference on Tuesday in Austin, Texas men’s head swimming & diving coach Eddie Reese that the team is going to take 4 divers and 16 swimmers. That’s in spite of having 24 men eligible to qualify for the meet in swimming and 5 divers.
Each team has 18 roster spots at the NCAA Championship meet, with swimmers counting as 1 spot and divers counting as .5, so 16 swimmers and 4 divers adds up to the maximum 18 roster spots.
The press conference was done before Texas’ 4th and 5th divers were qualified, but Reese said that even if they had 5 divers qualified, they would leave 1 home, alongside 6 eligible swimmers.
Even without divers, Texas is seeded to outscore the rest of the teams in the country – and they have by far the best diving group among the top contending teams.
Among other topics covered was the coronavirus that is reshaping the global swimming stage in the leadup to the 2020 Olympics. Reese said that he’s been told that there is a possibility to delay the Olympics, although they would still have to take place in 2020, though he remains optimistic about it.
As for the more imminent threat, the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championship meet that is only 2 weeks away, Reese said “I’m not worried about that, I know that’s a possibility. I know the Ivy League just cancelled their conference basketball tournament, and South by Southwest was cancelled. We’re into an era now where over-protection is what we do, and we’ve gotta do it that way, something like this.
“Nobody’s slowing down, everybody’s planning on it.”
Reese did say that if the NCAA Championship meet was cancelled, he might have to “invent” something in Texas’ home pool to give his team a chance to see the payoff of their taper, saying that he believes that’s an important thing for swimmers to have an opportunity for every season.
When asking about the impact that a 2020 title would mean, resulting in Reese having won NCAA titles in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s, Reese joked that it means he’s old, before getting a little more sentimental about the moment.
“I’m still in the sport, because I love the sport. I love what it makes them do. They go to college, they go to class, I get to see them 20 hours per week, and they work real hard, and they learn a lot of disciplines that will take them further in life. Almost every swimmer in life has gone on to be very, very successful. They used to come to me and say ‘I’m not going to have my children swim, because it’s too hard.’ And that has turned around. I used to tell them, ‘don’t for one minute think that you could get as far as you’ve gotten without swimming.’ And then of course the other one is ‘that just means you don’t love your kids as much as your parents love you.'”
Reese was also asked about his big transfers this season, Maxime Rooney, Alvin Jiang, and Chris Staka.
“Maxime came to school here, and when he first started practicing, he would shake hands and bump fists at the end of practice, with everyone on the team, and he still does a lot of that. In other words, he’s going all out for the team, and he does the same thing in his swims. He’s top 3 or 4 in the 100 fly going into the NCAAs. He doesn’t breathe the last 25. There’s probably 2 other guys who will do it that way. He’s just very tough, very determined.”
“The impact he’s had on the team has been special. This group this year…everybody talks about culture now, 10 years ago it was team chemistry, and in 10 years it’s gonna be, how much do they care about each other, and when he came in, we have upgraded, we’ve got a culture that is second to none, they take care of themselves, they take care of each other.”
Reese went on to laud his other two big recruits, Alvin Jiang and Chris Staka, as well.