With 6:07, Texas Men Swim Fastest 800 Free Relay Outside of NCAAs Ever

by Robert Gibbs 17

December 02nd, 2020 Big 12, College, News


  • December 2-5, 2020
  • Lee and Joe Jamal Texas Swimming Center, Austin, TX
  • Course: SCY
  • Results Link

A few years ago, it seemed like we were getting used to the Texas men swimming pretty slow in-season. Sure, they’d rest a bit for the mid-season invite, but we generally didn’t see anything too eye-popping until NCAAs.

Well, one of Eddie Reese’s constant refrains is that he’s always learning and always changing things, and in the last two seasons we’ve seen the Longhorns throw down some pretty speedy times earlier in the season. That trend continued tonight at the Texas Hall of Fame Invite, as the Texas 800 free relay ‘A’ team combined for a time of 6:07.34. Not only is that the 7th-fastest mark all-time, it’s now the fastest time ever outside of NCAAs, eclipsing the 6:08.40 the Texas men put up last year at the Minnesota Invite.

What might even be more impressive than the time itself is the fact that tonight’s team only featured one man who was on that 6:08 team from last year — junior Drew Kibler.

Kibler led off tonight in 1:30.57, his fastest time ever, with his previous best time of 1:30.83 coming from the aforementioned Minnesota Invite last year. That time was in the individual 200 free two days after the 800 free relay, where he had anchored in 1:31.01.

The other three Texas men tonight all split 1:32s. Freshman Coby Carrozza split 1:32.32 on the 2nd leg, which bodes well for a big time drop for him in the individual event on Friday. His lifetime coming into this meet is a 1:34.37 from last December.

After missing essentially all of last season, Jake Sannem returned to action tonight with a 1:32.24 split on the 3rd leg. While Sannem didn’t crack this Longhorn relay as a sophomore after transferring from USC, he proved invaluable on the most of the rest of the Texas relays at 2019 NCAAs, splitting sub-19 and sub-42, and finishing 12th in the individual 200 free with a time of 1:32.56. His prelims time of 1:32.43 from that meet is his lifetime best, and that suggests he has a 1:31 relay split in him at some point.

Another freshman, Carson Foster, anchored the Longhorns’ relay tonight with a 1:32.21. That’s pretty well in step with his best 200 free time of 1:32.99, which he did coming up on two years ago. However, considering that Foster threw down a 3:35 4o0 IM back in October, making him the 2nd-fastest man ever in this event, he presumably shouldn’t be too tapered this week, as he was of course easily under the NCAA ‘A’ cut in that event. That same thought holds true for Kibler, who already has ‘A’ cuts in the 200 and 500 freestyles from earlier this season.

Going back to the other three swimmers on that 6:08 relay from last year’s Minnesota Invite, two of the absences are noticeable. Maxime Rooney’s is not, as he graduated. But the other two legs last year were Matthew Willenbring and Austin Katz. We haven’t seen Willenbring swim yet at all this season, and we haven’t seen too much of Katz either. Katz has been a stalwart for this relay at NCAAs, anchoring 1:32.2 as a freshman in 2018, and splitting 1:31.4 on the second leg in 2019, when he teamed up with Kibler, Jeff Newkirk, and Townley Haas to set the US Open record at 6:05.08. So, it’ll definitely be interesting to see if Katz swims this week, and if so, how he does in his signature events, the backstrokes.

Every single NCAA event (except the 200 free relay) has gotten markedly faster over the last few years, and this event in particular has gotten wicked fast ever since it was moved from the final event of day two at NCAAs to the only event of day one. Prior to that change, the fastest time ever was a 6:09.85, done by Michigan at the 2014 B1G Championships. That time now ranks 19th ever.

To provide a little more context to show just how fast this time is for this time of year, before last year, the fastest pre-New Year’s time we can find in the USA Swimming database was a 6:14.29 by…you guessed it…Texas in 2018. Next fastest? Texas again with a 6:14.62 in 2017. From what we can tell, California is the only other team to have ever gone under 6:15 in November or December, with a 6:14.65 in November of 2018.

How much does all this matter? Maybe not all that much. Coaches  don’t always take this event super-seriously at this point in the year; UVA hasn’t even bothered swimming it at their mid-season invite recently, opting to wait to get their cuts at ACCs. And sure, Texas being fast in the 200 free isn’t anything new — that’s been the case for the better part of four decades. But what is fun is that no matter how much we get our minds blown by fast swimming (remember seeing Texas go 6:08 in 2016?), it continues to get faster, and fast swimming is fun to watch, no matter the time of year.

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8 months ago

that’s fast

8 months ago

200 freestyle U

Reply to  Derigan Silver
8 months ago

Do not cite the deep magic to me, witch. I was there when it was written.

Last edited 8 months ago by Harambe
Reply to  Derigan Silver
8 months ago

In 2019 the best Texas 100 flyer placed 30th

Michael Andrew Wilson
8 months ago

Backups 1:31 splitting Katz, 1:33 flat start SamPom, 1:33 Willenbring, 1:33 Peter Larson. B relay could rattle 6:10.

Great to see Sannem in top form again!

Reply to  Michael Andrew Wilson
8 months ago


Last edited 8 months ago by Yuh
8 months ago

I’m so happy to see these fast times. Most people don’t understand the lengths the coaches and swimmers go to to stay healthy and protect their teammates and I know things happen but I give major credit ( as if he needs more) to Eddie and staff for leading these guys to some great training and fast swims. Because when does it matter? March? Maybe? Now? Definitely.

Reply to  Swimfan
8 months ago

Definitely good on all these coaches letting their swimmers get after now in case March doesn’t pan out. I wonder if this will usher in new program plans in the future when we are back to normal seasons? If kids can sustain fast swimming and still drop later in the year maybe this will be the new norm? I dont have the coaching background to know but I’m interested to see what this means for the future of training.

8 months ago

They were so fast they beat Covid19. Two freshies and two jrs that’s impressive

Reply to  Taa
8 months ago

Jack Sannem is senior.

Reply to  PsychoDad
8 months ago

I thought he took last year off? Seems like he could get another year if he wanted.

Reply to  Taa
8 months ago

He did not take last year off. He swam at the American Short Course Champs in March, for example.

8 months ago

Just thinking out loud, and given the time doesn’t really matter as the article says, but would it make any sense as a better strategy for Texas to split their relays, put the guys they want on the A or B leadoff (or C if they wanted to), but perhaps strategically place each relay member in an order that pushes that swimmer with another swimmer next to them? I get that these swimmers provide their own motivation, but Carson Foster anchoring a relay 8 seconds ahead of the next fastest relay, 17 seconds ahead of the 3rd fastest relay – what does that really do for him? Outside of likely swimming in choppy water?

Eddie Reese is the man… Read more »

8 months ago

They should go that fast – they have all the best swimmers. Their 200 Medley was anemic. This is just mens swimming NOT nearly as exciting as the gals.

Steve Conder
8 months ago

Great article! Inspiring!