Luke Hobson Winning the 200 Free Is Eddie Reese Perfection

2024 MEN’S NCAA SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Over the course of his historic tenure at the University of Texas, head coach Eddie Reese turned Austin into one of the premiere destination for rangy, mid-distance freestylers.

Luke Hobson is the latest example, and he’s one in a long line of freestylers who have developed into stars during their time as a Longhorn. Looking back through the NCAA record books, the names come slowly, then all at once: Doug Gjersten, who won the first 200 free NCAA title for a Reese-coached Texas team. Josh Davis making it three wins in six years for Texas with his 1993 win.

Classmates Dave Walters and Ricky Berens forming a lethal pair on the 800 freestyle relay along with Michael Klueh. Townley Haas winning three straight titles from 2016-2018 and setting the NCAA record at 1:29.50. Drew Kibler collecting his first individual NCAA title in the 200 freestyle.

There’s a common denominator among the athletes on this list that Hobson will aim to share with them later this year–they’re all Olympians. Some are more known for their impact at the Olympics than their college exploits but Reese’s effect on their results is still keenly felt.

At least one of Reese’s swimmers has been on every Olympic team since 1984. And while Texas’ dominance in the NCAA (including 15 national team titles) and their presence on the international stage is not confined to just mid-distance freestyle, those are the events that have been at the program’s core.

That brings us back to Hobson. In 2023, he continued the improvement curve he’s been on since arriving in Austin. He broke 1:30 leading off the 800 freestyle relay, then earned national titles in the 200 and 500 freestyle. Now a junior, Hobson arrived in Indianapolis further down on the psych sheet, which was maybe evidence of his focus on the long-course pool (he won bronze in the 200-meter free at 2024 Worlds).

Hobson once again found success leading off the 800 freestyle relay. He broke the legendary Dean Farris‘ 200 freestyle NCAA and American records by two-hundredths in a 1:29.13. But one heat later, all he had left was the American record as Leon Marchand torched his mark and became the first person to break 1:29 (1:28.97).

Neither Reese nor Hobson panicked. On day 3 prelims, Hobson set the tone with a 1:29.75. It was the first time anyone had swum a 1:29 in prelims and also the first time someone had put together two sub-1:30 swims at the same meet.

But the best was yet to come for Hobson. In the final, he got revenge by reclaiming the NCAA record. He defended his title in a blistering 1:28.81, taking the records back from Marchand. In addition to another NCAA title, it earned Hobson another accolade: he’s the first person not named Leon Marchand to break a Marchand NCAA and U.S. Open record.

Hobson – 200 Free Final Hobson – 800 Free Relay Lead-off
50 20.82 20.28
100 43.36 (22.54) 42.11 (21.83)
150 1:06.07 (22.71) 1:04.97 (22.86)
200 1:28.81 (22.74) 1:29.13 (24.16)

As you can see from the splits, Hobson swam his race very differently in tonight’s final. Instead of stepping on the gas during the front half of the race, Hobson saved his push for the back 100 yards. He let himself be led around by Jack Alexy and Chris Guiliano on the first 50 yards, then began to close the gap from there.

Hobson and Reese were able to adjust the race strategy during the meet and get Hobson his record back. It’s similar to what Haas and Reese did six years ago. This isn’t the best team that Texas has ever brought to an NCAA championship meet, but Reese still had a trick left up his sleeve. The ability to adjust from the relay to the individual is the skill of a legendary coach that understands of the art of the tinker.

It’s one last dose of Eddie magic.

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Hop swammer
2 months ago

I can’t find anyone else going sub 23 on all 50s. Seliskar, Farris, Marchand, Haas, Pieroni have never done it. Anyone else to consider?

Nerd
Reply to  Hop swammer
2 months ago

No, this was the first time we’ve seen this happen as is evident by this being the first sub 46 back half

Mark the Shark
2 months ago

Rumor has it that late last night Dean Farris time trialed the 200 free in a 1:27.99. Practice suit. Broke the block on the start. No cap.

Danjohnrob
2 months ago

Will Eddie be helping these athletes prep for Trials and Paris?

AST
2 months ago

YAY, LUKE & EDDIE!

Jeah
2 months ago

Who are the greatest swimmers to ever swim for Eddie? And did they swim for him entire time?

Hansen, Piersol, Crocker, Feigen, Schooling…?

NornIron Swim
Reply to  Jeah
2 months ago

Piersol.
But that relay team in the early 00s was on a different level. Piersol, Hansen, Crocker, Walker.

Jeah
Reply to  NornIron Swim
2 months ago

Was Piersol with them his whole career?

NornIron Swim
Reply to  Jeah
2 months ago

College and pro to the best of my knowledge. But happy to be corrected.

Admin
Reply to  NornIron Swim
2 months ago

Yes I think that’s correct.

Swam in SoCal through high school.

(edited)

Mark the Shark
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 months ago

Crocker is from Maine. Piersol is from So.Cal.

Admin
Reply to  Mark the Shark
2 months ago

Oops oops you’re right.

Texan
Reply to  NornIron Swim
2 months ago

Neil had finished up by then and wasn’t on that relay. Chris Kemp was the freestyler on the relay. The group did swim a relay in a USA Swimming meet with Neil as the anchor.

Aaron competed for two years in college and continued to train with Ed after turning pro.

Texan
Reply to  Jeah
2 months ago

There are just too many. What separates Ed from everyone is how long he did it at that level. There were the guys in the 80s. The championship run from 88-91, the run from 2000-2002 including an insane team in 2001. You had the likes of Behrens and Walters in 2010. Six guys in the 100 fly in what, 2016? Of the people you listed you would have to say Piersol. Everyone else who had stints of domination during Ed’s tenure either moved to the National Team or were forced into leaving for some reason. Bauerle might be the one exception, and his record doesn’t match Ed’s. Durden is the one coach we’ve seen whose trajectory looks to be in… Read more »

henry
2 months ago

fact he broke a leon marchand record is CRAZY. don’t want to overlook a eddy reese masterclass or glaze marchand, but that really seems to solidify luke as legit.

Markosha
2 months ago

Nice tribute

Texan
2 months ago

Didn’t Texas fill four of the six spots for the 200 free at the 2000 Olympics? I’m thinking it was Scott Goldblatt, Jamie Rauch, Josh Davis, and Nate Dusing.

Dave Walters was so much fun to watch compete. He’d race anybody. Towley fans would have loved watching Dave race.

Last edited 2 months ago by Texan

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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