Longhorn Legacy Lives in the 200 Free at Eddie Reese’s Final Olympic Trials as Texas Coach


Remember that time that the Texas men didn’t put a swimmer on the USA’s Olympic 4×200 free relay team? Unless you’re closer to retirement age than high school graduation, no, you don’t.

The Longhorn legacy in the 200 free and 4×200 free relay isn’t a new story, but it’s one that’s worth telling again.

Eddie Reese arrived in Austin as the head coach of the Texas Longhorn men’s swimming & diving team back in 1978. Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. Pete Rose collected his 3000th hit that year. The Star Wars Holiday Special would get its one and only television showing that fall.

It only took three years before the Longhorns would win their first NCAA title under Reese. In the early part of the 1980s, the biggest Texas star on the international level was a backstroker, Rick Carey. But in 1988, Doug Gjertsen would qualify for the US Olympic team in the 4×200, marking the beginning of one of Texas’ most enduring legacies.

A Texas swimmer has been part of Team USA’s 4×200 freestyle relay at every Olympic Games since then. Tonight, that streak was guaranteed to continue after rising senior Luke Hobson touched first in the 200 free, earning an individual swim in Paris. Former Longhorn Drew Kibler took 3rd, earning his second-straight Olympic berth in the 4×200 free relay.

The Longhorn legacy on the 4×200 free relay: 

4×200 Free Swimmer(s) Medal
1988 Doug Gjertsen Gold
1992 Doug Gjertsen Bronze
1996 Josh Davis Gold
2000 Scott Goldblatt, Josh Davis, Jamie Rauch, Nate Dusing Silver
2004 Scott Goldblatt Gold
2008 Ricky Berens, David Walters Gold
2012 Ricky Berens Gold
2016 Townley Haas, Jack Conger, Clark Smith Gold
2021 None (4th)
2024 ??

Of course, Texas has seen plenty of mid-distance success in the college short course yards format as well. Gjertsen, Davis, Walters, Haas, Kibler, and Hobson all have won NCAA titles in the 200 yard freestyle. Smith, Haas, and Hobson have won NCAA titles in the 500 yard freestyle. Longhorn teams have won 17 titles in the 800 yard freestyle relay.

But back to this summer — while technically the US coaches don’t have to put Hobson on the relay, tradition dictates that he’ll get an automatic spot on the finals of the relay, along with 2nd-place finisher Chris Guiliano of Notre Dame.

Additionally, another Texas alum, Carson Foster, locked up an Olympic spot with last night’s win in the 400 IM. Given his splits on this relay at the last three World Championships (including a sub-1:44 in February), there’s a strong chance he’ll automatically get the nod to swim on the finals relay despite not swimming the 200 free individually this week.

Eddie Reese is retiring after this summer, but the man Texas hired to replace him, Bob Bowman, knows a thing or two about coaching 200 freestylers, and it looks like the Texas 200 free pipeline will continue to pump. Aaron Shackell, who’s transferring to Texas after spending the fall of his freshman year at Cal, qualified for the US team in the 400 free, and made the final of the 200 free, finishing 8th tonight.

Reese would be the first to tell you that swimming is about much more than titles and trophies and medals, and if asked about this streak, he’d probably make some self-deprecating remark about how it just means he’s old. But it’s still remarkably fitting to see Reese’s legendary career come to a close with Longhorns set to represent the Red, White, and Blue on this relay once again.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
200 flyer
28 days ago

Is Carson Foster still training there? Because if he is I bet the rivalry between him and Leon Marchand in practice would be awkward……

28 days ago

Will depend on how Guiliano is swimming in Paris, but our finals relay could possibly be 3/4 Longhorns

28 days ago

FYI: it is Jamie Rauch not Rausch

Genevieve Nnaji
28 days ago

Eddie knows how to train 200 freestylers.

Didn’t Dean Farris have breakthrough after spending summer training with Edd

Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
28 days ago

I think Dean’s breakthrough actually came before he went to Texas.

28 days ago

It wouldn’t be a mic drop because that’s just not Ed, but it feels like the perfect way to end his career. Anything else that happens this week is just a bonus.

28 days ago

Hook em

cowboy cap-iar
28 days ago

Will Eddie travel to Paris?

Reply to  cowboy cap-iar
28 days ago

Would think not coaches usually based on who put the most swimmers in the meet right?

Reply to  Horninco
28 days ago

Yes and no. It gets political as they lobby for a spot. Some coaches are shoe ins as they get an obvious number on the team. But then it gets political as you have a spot left and coaches with equal numbers of qualifiers. In the last ten years I think we saw a coach (thinking it was Ray or maybe Mike Bottom) get on staff for one gender when they had put more swimmers on in the other gender, like being on the men’s staff with one male and two female qualifiers. When I’ve heard the stories, I’m just glad I am not close to being a part of that process.

Reply to  cowboy cap-iar
28 days ago

I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go. He’s not going to be on a coaching staff, so he won’t have to do meetings and such. Won’t be shocked at all if he’s just sitting in the stands or something. I would be shocked if he got on staff and had to do the training camp and such.

28 days ago

18 guys across 10 Olympics. Both those numbers are amazing

Reply to  JimSwim22
28 days ago

Coaching for 10 Olympics is just mind-boggling. To put this into perspective, Eddie recruited Rowdy to Auburn before he got the texas job. Insane to think about

About Robert Gibbs