Meet 2016 US Olympic swimmer Townley Haas. A native of Richmond, VA, and a rising sophomore at the University of Texas, Haas talks about his ascension to the Olympic team and the moment when he realized he might have the makings of an Olympic-caliber swimmer. Haas is one of four past and present Longhorn men that will represent team USA in the pool this summer in Rio.
At Junior Nationals during the summer of 2013 Haas captured his first title at a national competition with a victory in the 400 free. Haas’ time of 3:51.99 was a meet record, though Haas lowered his time and defended his title in the summer of 2014. After the first victory at Juniors in 2013, Haas says he realized he could compete at more national-level meets.
Haas talks about how coach Eddie Reese at the University of Texas wanted the Longhorn squad to keep their focus on Olympic Trials, regardless of the outcome of NCAAs. The NCAA Championships, which were held in Atlanta, GA, in March, were a major success for the University of Texas and Haas individually. In the 500 freestyle, Haas swam to victory with a 4:09.00, finishing nearly a full second ahead of runner-up Mitch D’Arrigo of the University of Florida. In the 200 freestyle, Haas swam a blistering 1:30.46, taking 0.8 off the previous NCAA record and finishing over a second ahead of Georgia’s Matias Koski (1:31.54). Haas’ time in the 200 free also lowered the American Record, previously held by former Longhorn Ricky Berens. On the final day of competition Haas competed in the 1650 freestyle, where he placed 4th.
At the 2016 US Olympic Trials in Omaha, Haas placed 1st in the 200 freestyle, coming from behind in the final 50 meters to pass Conor Dwyer, who placed 2nd. Coming in 3rd was fellow Longhorn Jack Conger, who punched his ticket to Rio by securing a spot on the 800 free relay. Clark Smith from Texas placed 6th, also making the team for the 800 free relay. Haas took a narrow 3rd-place-finish in the 400 freestyle on the first night of competition behind Connor Jaeger and Conor Dwyer.