Freshman Katz Comes up Big with 45.3 100 Back Split at Texas Invite


The 2017 Texas Invitational continued on Thursday night with the 200 free relay, 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free, and 400 medley relay. Both top seeds, Clark Smith and Leah Smith, scratched out of tonight’s 500 free. Clark Smith reportedly withdrew from the 500 free final due to a heart condition.


The Texas men bookended the meet with relay wins. Ringgold’s scorching 18.41 on the 2nd leg of the 200 free relay helped the Longhorns (1:16.13) meet the NCAA ‘A’ standard. In the 400 medley relay, both Texas (3:06.11) and Arizona State (3:07.44) met the NCAA ‘A’ mark, though the Longhorns’ A team was disqualified for an early takeoff.

Texas freshman standout Austin Katz was a key player in helping the Horns secure their NCAA spot. Despite their A relay being disqualified, Katz came up big with a 45.34 backstroke split to help the B relay to victory. Katz dropped nearly 2 seconds from his best time, which stood at a 47.06 before tonight. He was significantly faster than reigning NCAA runner-up John Shebat‘s 46.83 leadoff on the A relay. Additionally, Casey Melzer‘s (52.50) breast split on the B relay was much faster than Austin Temple‘s (53.37) split on the A relay.

Stanford’s Abrahm DeVine put up one of the highlight swims on the men’s side, breaking 1:42 for the first time in the 200 IM. DeVine shot off the blocks to take the early lead with a 21.96 fly split and controlled the race all the way through, knocking 3 tenths off his best time to win it in 1:41.99. Arizona’s Nick Thorne, an Olympic Trials semifinalist, also had a big swim, taking nearly 2 seconds off his best time with a 1:42.76 for 2nd place. Both should safely make the NCAA meet based on last season’s invite time of 1:44.34. Texas’ Sam Stewart isn’t far off that mark after breaking 1:45 for the first time and taking 3rd with his 1:44.97 tonight.

The men’s 500 free went to Grant Shoults, who overtook Texas star Townley Haas at the halfway point and never looked back. Shoults won it in 4:11.34, followed by teammate Liam Egan (4:14.03) and Haas (4:14.43). Only Shoults met the NCAA ‘A’ time and put up the #1 time in the nation thus far, but all 3 men were under the 2017 NCAA invite standard, as were freshmen Brooks Fail (4:16.21) of Arizona and Johannes Calloni (4:16.60) of Stanford. Stanford’s True Sweetser (4:16.82) was just off the mark.

Texas’ Parker Neri and Harvard’s Brennan Novak each made big drops from their best times in the B final. Neri dropped over 6 seconds from his best time throughout the day to win the consolation heat in 4:16.35, while Novak dropped a second to finish narrowly behind in 4:16.51. Both cleared the 2017 NCAA invite mark.

Oklahoma Baptist’s David Lambert took down the NCAA Division 2 Record when he touched in 19.14 to win tonight’s 50 free. He finished on top ahead of a stacked field that included U.S. Olympian Matt Grevers (19.22), Texas All-American Brett Ringgold (19.32), Olympic sprint finalist Santo Condorelli (19.48), and Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling (19.50). Ringgold was under the 2017 NCAA qualifying time (19.43), as was Schooling with his 19.33 from prelims.


Though no team was able to match the NCAA ‘A’ standard in the 200 free relay, both USC (3:29.96) and Texas (3:32.59) qualified for NCAAs in the 400 medley relay. The Trojans dominated the race with Hannah Weiss leading off in a 52.35 back split. Riley Scott (breast- 58.75), Louise Hansson (fly- 51.16), and freshman standout Marta Ciesla (free- 47.70) finished the job as they turned in a final time of 3:29.96.

In the first individual race, the 500 free, Texas’ Joanna Evans ripped a personal best 4:35.05 to dominate the field in an NCAA ‘A’ cut. Arizona’s Hannah Cox (4:39.49) and Texas freshman Evie Pfeifer (4:39.64) were well under the 2017 NCAA invite time of 4:41.84 as they rounded out the top 3. UCLA’s Sandra Soe was just off the mark with a 4:41.88 for 4th.

Postgrad Longhorn Madisyn Cox continued the winning streak for Texas in the 200 IM. Cox used her back half speed to take control and dominated the race in 1:54.39. Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson, who had the early lead over Cox, wound up 2nd in 1:55.36, putting her more than 2 seconds under the 2017 NCAA invite time. USC’s Riley Scott is also a likely NCAA qualifier with her 1:55.63 for 3rd, as is teammate Louise Hansson with her 1:56.30 for 4th place. UCLA’s Emma Schanz finished 5th in 1:56.51. Texas’ Evie Pfeifer doubled up, taking 6th in 1:56.82. Each of the top 6 swimmers was well under the 2017 NCAA qualifying mark of 1:57.66.

USC freshman Marta Ciesla snapped the Longhorns’ winning streak in the 50 free. She put up a personal best 22.23 in the event to out-touch Texas All-Americans Rebecca Millard (22.28) and Claire Adams (22.34). Ciesla matched the 2017 NCAA invite time (22.213), while Millard was just off it.

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Looking at the times the freshmen are throwing down, I’d say Texas has more than a good chance to retain their title.


Should have a chance for 4 peat. Just a bit surprised by Schooling’s 50 free. Looks like he didn’t give his all.


Maybe he’s already peaked


maybe he went faster in practice.


It’s also possible that he’s choosing not to rest at all for this meet and could be racing sore. I’m giving the Olympic gold medalist the benefit of the doubt.


More like a freshmen. And it don’t matter if Katz does good and everyone else lags behind

j pine

Casey Melzer? Parker Neri? They have been throwing down some pretty good times as well…

JP input too short

Melzer isn’t a freshman but Pomajavich is and he’s thrown down some good splits. Let’s see how his individual butterflies go.


46 relay split, good? Though that 200 free lead off was good.


Austin Katz is a stud. Have been fortunate to watch him for years. The future is bright. Just needs to stay healthy and keep training at a high level to become a legitimate player for 2020. Whomever coached him deserves a raise.

j pine



I meant his club coach Einstein. That is the person who developed him and helped him develop his skill set that is just now starting to flourish.


Why would his club coach be the genius. If in 3 months of college training Katz is this much faster,all that means is he either wasn’t training properly with his club,or that Eddie Reese is just that good of a coach…


Swimmer doesn’t improve in college, he wasn’t coached properly in club. Swimmer improves drastically in college, he wasn’t trained properly in club. Must be nice to have all the answers. I mean after all, it’s not like this kid wasn’t the silver medalist at WUG’s this summer before he stepped foot on campus to train with Eddie.


Improvement at college often comes from refining the skillset already there. You get drops like that from kids when they have incredible technique (from a club program) but can benefit from some weights, change up in race strategy, and by implementing some race specific training (among other things) that may have been lacking at the club level. Bottom line, that technique didn’t grow out of nowhere.


The goal for many club coaches isn’t to make the kid the fastest they’ll ever be before they turn 18, it’s to develop them as a swimmer and give them the skills needed to succeed with their next coach in college


Well there’s no way to say who gets credit but it’s obviously a combination of previous coaches, current coaches, Current Teammates and most importantly….KATZ. Keep it up Austin!


I swam with Austin before he went to college and I can say that he had incredible talent, however the coaching we had was not ideal and he is definitely much better off at Texas where he can specialize his training.


I think Katz is a contender to break Murphy’s AR in the 200 back in a couple years. He’s far better at that distance. I’d put money on a 1:37.5 this season.



Ex Quaker

Hey Lauren, I’m pretty sure this is Austin Katz- I think Alex might be his older brother. Thanks!

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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