National Championship moments: 2000 Men's Swimming and Diving
With a No. 1 national ranking and a 21st consecutive conference title under its belt, The University of Texas men's swimming and diving team entered competition at the 2000 NCAA Championships with expectations of nothing short of the national title. Twelve of the 18 Longhorns in Minneapolis had previous experience at the NCAA Championships, giving Texas the maturity and the talent needed to claim the program's seventh NCAA title.
One potential obstacle stood in the Longhorns' way. For the 2000 meet, the NCAA opted to use a 25-meter short-course format instead of the usual 25-yard format. Since 2000 was an Olympic year, the NCAA believed the `meters format', the standard measurement for international competition, would be more conducive to training for the Olympic Trials. Some coaches believed that this may present a slight advantage to teams with more foreign athletes, and, since the Texas squad consisted of all American athletes, some questions were raised about the Longhorns' abilities to compete side-by-side with the foreign athletes who had trained their entire lives using meters measurements.
The Longhorns began to answer those questions with a strong performance in the 200-meter freestyle relay, which kicked off the championships. The team of sophomore Leffie Crawford, junior Matt Ulrickson, sophomore Ryan Ciccarelli and senior Bryan Jones finished fourth in 1:27:09 after recording a new American record of 1:26.78 in the preliminaries. Defending NCAA champion Auburn claimed the 200 free relay title in 1:25.14 to establish an early lead in the team competition.
Junior Scott Goldblatt followed by qualifying for the finals of the 400-meter freestyle, where he finished fourth (3:44.44). Senior Jon Younghouse and junior Jamie Rauch also scored for UT in the 400 free, finishing ninth (3:46.07) and 12th (3:46.95), respectively, in the consolation finals. Two Longhorns advanced to the championship finals of the 200 individual medley, the third event of the day. Junior Nate Dursing finished second for the second consecutive year (1:56.84), while sophomore Joe Montague touched sixth (1:59.32).
With Jones' eighth-place finish (22.00) and Crawford's 15th-place performance (22.32) in the 50 freestyle, Texas looked strong heading into the first day of diving competition. It was in the diving well that the Longhorns began to separate themselves from the rest of the field. After missing out on the one-meter springboard title at the 1999 NCAA Championships by a mere nine points, sophomore Troy Dumais was not about to let the 2000 crown slip away. Dumais posted a score of 605.20 to outpace Tennessee's Shannon Roy, who finished second, by 34.25 points. Senior John Eisler also recorded a strong performance on the one-meter board, finishing eighth (533.35) to earn the first All-America honor of his career.
The Longhorns used the momentum gained with Dumais' win in diving competition to capture their first swimming title of the 2000 meet in the 400 medley relay. The UT foursome of sophomore Tommy Hannan, senior Russell Chozick, Dusing and Jones set a new U.S. Open record time of 3:31.23 to propel Texas into the lead after the first day of competition. The Longhorns had amassed 173 points to stand ahead of second-place Auburn (151) and third-place Arizona (114.5).
Texas head coach Eddie Reese believed heading into the NCAA Championships that the second day of the competition would be his team's strongest. His Longhorns proved him right by winning four event titles on the day.
The team of Ulrickson, Chozick, Dusing and Jones opened the second day with a win in the 200 medley relay. The foursome also set a new American and U.S. Open record with their time of 1:35.66, while Ulrickson posted a lead-off relay split of 23.96 to record a new U.S. Open 50 backstroke record. Montague followed the relay victory with an eighth-place finish in the 400 individual medley (4:16.99) to continue the Texas surge.
The 100 butterfly, which was the third event of the day was again the event UT pointed to as its strong suit as the Longhorns entered the competition with three of the top five times in the nation and the reigning U.S. Swimming National Champion in the 100 fly in Jones. Three athletes competed in the finals, with Dusing leading the charge with a new American record of 52.00 to finish second behind Nebraska's Adam Pine. Hannan and Jones finished fifth and seventh, respectively.
Texas continued its pursuit of the title with a strong showing in the 200 freestyle, placing two athletes in the championship final and one in the consolation final. Rach was UT's top competitor, touching third in 1:46.35, while Goldblatt finished fifth in 1:46.84. In the consolation final, Younghouse swam to a 12th-place finish, touching in 1:47.82. Chozick, meanwhile, followed with a sixth-place performance in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.40).
The Longhorns closed out the second day of competition with three straight wins. Ulrickson began the Texas gold rush by earning his first-ever NCAA title in the 100 backstroke (52.05). Hannan placed fourth in the 100 back finals (52.53) to solidify UT's lead.
Dumais, who captured the three-meter title in 1999 as a freshman, was the overwhelming favorite to claim his second consecutive title on the board and win his second title of the 2000 championship meet. Despite facing a tough field, Dumais not only won the event, but did so in decisive fashion by scoring 662.65 to outdistance his closest competitor - Miami's Stefan Ahrens (624.05) - by 38.60 points. Dumais became the third man in Texas history to win back-to-back NCAA titles in diving competition and the second Longhorn ever to win two diving titles at one NCAA Championships meet. Prior to Dumais, only David "Skippy" Browning, who won both the one- and three-meter springboard titles in 1951 and 1952 had accomplished the feat.
The 800 freestyle relay, the final event of the second day of competition, had traditionally been Texas' strongest event of the NCAA meet. The Longhorns entered as two-time defending champions in the 800 free relay and returned all four members of the 1999 squad which captured the gold. The foursome of Younghouse, Dusing, Goldblatt and Rauch recorded a new U.S. Open record time of 7:05.05 in their first-place performance, touching more than 4.3 seconds ahead of second-place Arizona State (7:09.40).
With two days in the books, the Longhorns increased their lead to 115 points, scoring 416 to outdistance Auburn (291) and Arizona (241.5).
Younghouse led off the final night of competition with a seventh-place showing in the 1,500 freestyle (14:59.23) with Goldblatt finishing ninth (15:02.10). Ulrickson followed with a fourth-place finish in the 200 backstroke (1:55.47), while Rauch continued the Texas success by touching fifth in the 100 freestyle (48.36). Dusing followed with a ninth-place performance in the 200 butterfly (1:57.35) to end the individual-event swimming competition.
In the platform diving competition, Dumais fell 7.3 points shy of a sweep of the diving events. In the tightest diving competiton of the meet, Dumais scored 588.80 to finish just below Miami's Tyce Routson, who tallied 596.10 points.
The Longhorns concluded the competition with a second-place showing in the 400 freestyle relay (3:12.56) by the foursome of Dusing, Rauch, Ulrickson and Jones and claimed their seventh NCAA Championship title of the Reese era by an impressive 153-point margin. The Horns recorded 538 team points, the most ever in an NCAA meet by a Texas.
Dumais, who was the meet's individual high scorer, was tabbed the Diver of the Championships, while Reese claimed the title Swimming Coach of the Championships. Five Longhorns also appeared in the list of the top 20 individual high scorers as in addition to Dumais, Dusing ranked eighth (43), Goldblatt placed 14th (38) and Ulrickson and Rauch tied for 18th (35) in the final individual rankings.