New Longhorn Alvin Jiang Splits 43.8 Fly Leg at Minnesota Invite

by Robert Gibbs 23

December 05th, 2019 National, News, Previews & Recaps

2019 MINNESOTA INVITATIONAL

  • Wed. Dec. 4 – Sun. Dec. 8, 2019
  • Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center / University of Minnesota / Minneapolis, MN
  • Wed. Timed finals 6 PM
  • Thu.-Sat. Prelims 10 AM / Finals 6 PM / Diving 12 Noon
  • Short course yards (SCY) format Wed.-Sat. (LCM format Sunday)
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  • Live Stream (days 2-4)
  • Live results
    • Also on Meet Mobile. Search “Minnesota Invite 2019”

Texas brought in a trio of talented transfers this year in the form of Alvin Jiang, Maxime Rooney, and Chris Staka, and while Rooney may have been the new Longhorn with the biggest name recognition, it is Jiang who has arguably made the biggest splash so far, at least in terms of historic splits.

Swimming tonight on the Texas ‘B’ 400 medley relay, Jiang threw down a 43.82 that makes him one a handful of men who’ve broken 44 from a relay start. While there’s no official records kept for relay splits, we know that Austin Staab, Tom Shields, Joe Schooling, John Shebat, and Ryan Held have all been sub-44 (plus, of course, Caeleb Dressel’s otherworldly 42.8 flat start).

What makes Jiang’s time so much more remarkable is that he came into the season with a lifetime best of 46.22 from last year’s ACC Championships, when he was still swimming for UNC. Now, assuming that his 43.8 translates into roughly a 44-mid flat start, he could very well be in the mix for a 100 fly title come March.

The other upshot for Texas is that Jiang’s surge helps give them nearly unprecedented relay flexibility. After last year’s NCAAs, it looked like the fly leg might be a liability after they lost John Shebat and his sub-44 split to graduation (although Drew Kibler did go 45-mid in prelims). Then it looked like Rooney would be the fly leg after he transferred in with a solid 44.73 split from last spring and a 50.68 100 fly LCM time from last year. Now, Jiang’s split tonight makes leaving Rooney off this relay in favor of the other four an increasingly realistic possibility, especially after he lowered his personal best in the 50 free twice today before splitting 44.38 on the fly leg of the Longhorns’ A relay. (Incidentally, replacing Rooney’s 44.38 with Jiang’s 42.82 would’ve put that A relay at 3:00.9).

As if tonight’s results won’t give Eddie Reese enough to think about between now and March, sophomore Drew Kibler also threw down a 4:11.19 in the 500 free. That’s a time that would make every NCAA A-final ever in the 500 free, but last year Kibler swam the 50 free, finishing 9th in prelims and in finals, and had the 2nd-fastest split on Texas’s 200 free relay (18.6). That relay lost Tate Jackson’s 18.3 anchor leg to graduation, and Jake Sannem (18.9) has been MIA so far this season, so one hand it seems Kibler would be needed on that relay, along with with fellow sophomore sprint star Daniel Krueger.

But, it’s not hard to see a 200 free relay of Krueger and Rooney, plus Jiang, who has looked good in the 50 free this season, and freshman Caspar Corbeau, who split sub-19 in high school and has been sharp the past two days, still vying for a NCAA title even if Kibler does end up swimming the 500.

As a whole, the Longhorns are looking far fresher and faster than they normally do at mid-season. Besides the times we’ve already talked about, Ryan Harty and Matthew Willenbring each went 1:41 tonight in the 200 IM, Staka knocked 0.86s off his lifetime best in the 100 back, and Krueger anchored the A relay in 40.7 (although his 50 free times were a bit slower than you’d expect). Last season, some of the Texas swimmers who came up with big swims at mid-season struggled to repeat those times at NCAAs, something that helps explains the 85 point loss to Cal. If Reese can find that secret sauce so that the Longhorns can repeat these times come March, it’s not hard to envision that what was looking to be another tight race between Texas and Cal’s own juggernaut of a team could actually turn into a Longhorn stampede.

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PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
1 year ago

This is a solid article which lays out a lot of the nuances surrounding the complexity of this Texas team in measured fashion.

I can’t wait for this comment section to do the opposite.

Michael Andrew Wilson
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
1 year ago

Perfectly stated. And I’ll amend my own cautious opinion from the Sam Pom article. The horns are now very clearly performing above and beyond their midseason form of recent years.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Michael Andrew Wilson
1 year ago

As I’ve said many times, anyone (especially Eddie) who watched Townley blast out the first 250 of the 500 free and then fall apart the rest of the race and NCAA meet last year knows that they were overtrained last year, with few exceptions. Eddie’s quck to make corrections. They’ve never swum this fast this early. I doubt we will see the usual big time drops we’re used to getting from them at NCAAs, but they’ll still be the favorites.

swimmerswammer
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

Texas is the one team that has no patterns from year to year. Under Eddie he tinkers so much and you never know what they’re going to do.

I’m thinking of examples like Stanford winning PAC-10s for 30 years but rarely an NCAA title. Zona in the early 2000s would light it up at Texas Invite, swim slow at conference, and then fast again at NCAAs. Michigan always used to crush Big-10s and then have slightly inconsistent NCAAs. Auburn sprinters always used to swim fast in-season. Florida would swim slow all year and taper big at SECs and again at NCAAs.

Texas varies year to year and swimmer to swimmer it seems.

Horninco
1 year ago

comment image

Regan stan
1 year ago

4-4-4-4 on the strokes, incredible.

PsychoDad
1 year ago

As always, California will be much faster in March and the races will be tight, but Longhorns depth is so great this year and tallent so superior, Texas wins this year. Every swimmer Texas takes to NCAAs will score.

PsychoDad
Reply to  PsychoDad
1 year ago

Oh, yeah, Texas freshmen along will be top 10 🙂

PsychoDad
Reply to  PsychoDad
1 year ago

When I say freshmen, I count 3 transfers too. Hey, I can set my own rules!

THESPECULATOR
1 year ago

Would’ve been interesting to see if Jaing succeeded under Gangloff and his new staff

Texas Fan
1 year ago

Utter domination from the Longhorns at this invite just proves who’s going to come out on top in March. Just send the trophy to Austin already, the Longhorns are just too deep and are swimming too fast to be stopped by any one this year.

Buckeyeboy
Reply to  Texas Fan
1 year ago

And people sometimes wonder why people don’t like Texas; and in particular their fans.

Anonymoose
Reply to  Buckeyeboy
1 year ago

*NC State honestly, and I’m impartial

swimgeek
Reply to  Buckeyeboy
1 year ago

Yes, I’m sure this was written by a true “Texas Fan” who picked the very original name “Texas Fan” . . .

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Texas Fan
1 year ago

So who will be the guy(s) that don’t deliver this year: the Schooling who didn’t make the 200 fly final, the Clark Smith debacle meet, the Townley 200 after his fly-and-die 500 free, the Sam Pom who took a million time trials to qualify for the meet? All of those guys were proven commodities, so there will definitely be some guys — hopefully not the projected top point scorers — who won’t deliver. Cal’s strength last year is that every guy delivered.

Caleb
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

that’s one reason Cal odds are down from last year… no one has a magical “everyone delivers” every year.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Caleb
1 year ago

I would expect all the Cal guys to deliver again this year. They just don’t have Seli to win relays and individual events. Another potential confounding variable is how will Eddie (or Durden) deal with NCAAs and the true Olympic team threats (Rooney, Katz, Whitley). Last cycle, the real threats (Schooling, Conger, Murphy, etc.) fully rested at NCAAs, did terrific, (Murphys, in particular, was memorable), and went back to work the next day, and still delivered at Trials. Will that be played differently this year? Remember, Dressel was lights out (18.20, 40.46, 44.4 plus absurd relay splits) at NCAAs and then disappointed in the 50 free at OTs. It’s a gamble.

wethorn
1 year ago

I couldn’t tell what happened on Kruger’s 50 start, but he looked surprised to take his mark and was very slow off the blocks. Looked like he lost a few tenths off the blocks.

NCSwimFan
1 year ago

Eddie Reese never fails to disappoint! Super impressive results for the Longhorns so far.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  NCSwimFan
1 year ago

I’d say he disappointed last year. See Haas, Sam Pom, Tate Jackson and others,

PsychoDad
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

True. Longhorns did not deliver last year. You should take Eddie seriously when he says he is winging it all the time. It did not work last year. I think this year there is so much depth even if 2,3 swimmers (not the top ones I hope too) do not deliver, there will be enough points to win. I think this year Eddie wants to qualify many as early as possible and then they can focus on taper in March, not tapering for big 12s and last chance meets.