What Makes Eddie Reese Great? (Video Report)

This year marks 40 years of Eddie Reese as the head coach of the Texas Longhorns, and what a 40 years it’s been. Among 13 NCAA titles, numerous champions both at the NCAA and Olympic level, and accolades for being one of the greatest coaches in the nation, Eddie has an extensive resume. So what makes him stand out? What does he do differently?

What makes Eddie Reese great?

Eddie explained a few pieces of the puzzle to his success. The first were the things he tries to change. Eddie explains that even if the team wins a national title, there are still areas where he feels he fails every year, and at the end of each season he goes back and looks at where he can be better.

The next piece was things that he’s kept consistent over the years. In practice, he makes sure to be engaged, mostly by doing one thing: talking with his athletes. He measures his steps every practice, but not for the normal reason. If Eddie’s walking, that means Eddie’s talking. And that means he’s helping his athletes get better. Eddie also emphasized focusing on technique, something that he even admittedly didn’t enjoy, but something that has been key to the success of his swimmers.

The final piece Eddie discussed was maintaining the team culture, which meant making decisions that would benefit the team as a whole, even if they were hard to make. Eddie spoke of removing a group of swimmers from the team that weren’t positively contributing to the team environment, something that he doesn’t enjoy doing. But he goes on to recall that it was the right thing to do, both for those swimmers and for the rest of their teammates.

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36 Comments on "What Makes Eddie Reese Great? (Video Report)"

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Interesting that Coach Reese mentioned the two 50 freestylers that didn’t do as well as he had hoped, and that he always blamed himself first. My first thought is that Coach Reese is 100% class. My second thought is that the 50 free is one of the few (maybe only) event in which Reese’s swimmers may not reach their full potential. I know that sounds insane given Texas has won the 200 freestyle relay a few years in a row. But consider that Joe Schooling did the best 50 freestyle in school history (18.7), after skipping more than half the season. Jimmy Feigen got a lot better his freshman year, then leveled off. Hopefully Brett Ringgold will break 18.5 this… Read more »

Are we forgetting that Eddie had a “sprinter” win the 50 and 100 at the 2008 trials.

crooked donald

It may just be that he scares off true drop-dead sprinters and the great ones go elsewhere. He’s clearly taught some recent guys not known for raw speed to develop some serious speed in the 100 speed on relays — Conger, Haas, Schooling —- and he’s had several great pure sprinters along the way, starting with inch-for-inch the greatest pure sprinter, Gary Schatz.

He managed to develop guys like Conger and Haas, who originally only stuck to the 200, to branch out towards the 50 & 100 where they, especially Townley, have been dropping insane times, more impressive because of the fact that their bodies are made for middle distance. For Schooling on the other hand, he may have started out with the mid-distance events, swimming the 200Fly and Free, but it seems he’s totally dropped those in favour of the sprints and now focuses on the 50s and 100s of fly and free. Initially he had the body for the mid distance events, but I feel that he always had some sort of raw speed for the sprint events in him that… Read more »
Mikeh, that is a fair assessment and question – don’t worry about thumbs down. You can love Eddie and admire his legacy, as I do, but still question things. He is first one to admit he is winging it half of the time. You can see huge difference in technique of Texas swimmers between freshman year and sophomore year. Will Licon did not swim backstroke “Eddie style” his freshman year and there was a huge difference his sophomore year and that paid off in 200 IM. Temple did not swim “Eddie Style” breaststroke his freshman year, but he did from sophomore year on, but that did not pay off. Sometimes teaching same technique does not work for everyone though. Eddie… Read more »

What is “Eddie Style” backstroke?

Well said Psychodad thank you. Can you tell us more about what Eddie style is in the strokes?

Ha-ha. No. What do I know? I am just a psycho parent. I do have however 25-30 page presentations on every stroke what I learn by interacting with ex-Eddie swimmers for a long time. I posted my backstroke presentation here about 3 years ago. Our 15 yo buy just dropped 1:02.90 in 100 breast (his off event), and he will be sub 50 in 100 back and fly by the time he turns 18, and sub 1:50 in 200 back and 200 IM – all by swimming “Eddie Gangnam Style:” :).


A Legend and one of the greatest college swimming coaches in history. Plus, he has an wonderful attitude and sense of humor. A true gift to our sport.

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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