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Jack Conger, the (disputed) number-one recruit in the class of 2013, has made his college commitment to Eddie Reese and the Texas Longhorns this evening, opting against joining Ryan Murphy at Cal. He swims for the Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club under Sue Chen, as well as the independent Good-Counsel High School in the DC Area.
Conger is one of the most unique talents we’ve seen coming out of high school ever. He is within striking distance of the National High School Records in both the 50 free (19.85, off of a 19.43) and 500 free (4:17.51 off of a 4:16.93) – he already has the Independent High School Record in the latter. In between those races, he’s gone 44.06 in the 100 free and a 1:35.25 in the 200 free. He is good enough to replace the relay holes left by the graduations of both Jimmy Feigen after last season, and Dax Hill after this season, as he would immediately become a focal-point of any of the three free relays.
He also has a shot at the 100 back record (46.98 – 46.82 for the Independent record, 45.49 for the overall), and has been a 1:40.41 in the 200 back – already good enough to compete for NCAA National Championships.
He’s half-a-second from the overall high school record in the 100 fly with a 47.19, has been a 1:45.85 in the 200 fly, and one would have to believe that he could well undercut his best ever 200 IM of 1:53.60. Afterall, that was swum when he was a 14-year old freshman.
He’s so good at so many different races, we’ll try to avoid bogging down with too many numbers digging into long course, but needless to say if he doesn’t find a way onto the 2016 Olympic Team in something, it will be a huge shock.
One would expect that he could at least earn the 40 individual points that Austin Surhoff earned as a freshman in 2010; one would expect maybe in the range of 45 individual points in year one as a Longhorn.
Where he’ll fit in at Texas is anybody’s guess. Based on his national and international level entries, he prefers to continue as a backstroker. Immediately, Texas would probably need him most on the medley relay as a butterflier, though he’d have to beat out fellow freshman Clark Smith, as well as Tripp Cooper who had a great freshman season last year for that job. The Longhorns will be losing their top backstroker Cole Cragin after this season, but Kip Darmody is more than capable of filling that spot. Clay Youngquist is also a stud for the freestyle spot.
Basically, what Texas will need from him most badly as a freshman is to score big individual points, and to swim well on the free relays. If he ends up on a medley, it would most likely be as a butterflier. Texas didn’t have as explosive of a class as normal last season (though some late pickups rounded it out well), but with what would seem to be plenty of money to go around this fall, Reese has really shot grabbed a big class. In addition to Conger and Smith, they’ve also gotten Junior National Team breaststroker Will Licon, another elite backstroker in Will Glass, and we’re hearing rumors that another big name will be headed Austin-way tomorrow.
Simply put, this Texas team is reloading to take a run at the Cal dynasty. One would imagine that with Conger coming to town, it should silence any immediate speculation about when Reese might step down – at least in the immediate future. One would imagine that he would plan to take Conger through 2016, barring any change in his circumstances.
With this, as well the verbal of Young Tae Seo to Florida tonight, the ranks of the available super-profile recruits in the class of 2013 has dwindled to a nearly-empty list. Among the top swimmers left are under-the-radar SwimMAC swimmer Matthew Josa.
Michael HixonCommits Too
What’s overlooked with how successful Texas swimming has been is how good their diving program has been under Matt Scoggin’s direction. They too have been hit hard by recent graduations, but their newest addition will immediately make up for that. Michael Hixon is a multiple-time Junior National Champion who won bronze at the 2010 Youth Olympics on the 3-meter, and silver at World Juniors in 2010 on the 3-meter synchro alongside Stanford star Kristian Ipsen.
In 2011, he broke through to win a 1-meter Senior National Championship too; that 1-meter is his best event, but is often overlooked because it’s not dived at the Olympics. Not all of the heavyweights contended that 1-meter title, but among others he beat out NCAA Champion Ben Grado, as well as names like Dwight Dumais and Zach Nees. He doesn’t dive platform, but should be at least a 25-point scorer as a freshman.