Men's Swimming and Diving preview: NCAA Championships
WHAT: 2007 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships
WHERE: University Aquatics Center - Minneapolis, Minn.
WHEN: Thursday March 15 - Saturday, March 17
Longhorns In the Hunt for 10th NCAA Title
Texas' NCAA Qualifiers
Texas Wins 11th Straight Big 12 Title, 28th Consecutive Conference Crown
Sophomore Michael Klueh was selected as the Big 12 Men's Swimmer of the Meet, and for good reason, as he set new meet records in the 400 IM (3:45.89) and the 1,650 freestyle (14:42.69). Freshman Ricky Berens, who claimed his first conference title in the 100 butterfly (46.97), was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Meet. To no surprise, head coach Eddie Reese was named the Big 12 Coach of the Meet.
The Longhorns won conference titles in all five relays and nearly set a new American record in one of them, the 800 freestyle relay. Freshman Dave Walters, Klueh, Berens and junior Matt McGinnis clocked 6:18.43, falling just shy of the American record time of 6:18.00 produced by Scott Goldblatt, Nate Dusing, Chris Kemp and Jamie Rauch at the 2001 NCAA Championships.
Led by Klueh's three individual titles (500, 1,650 free, 400 IM), Texas claimed 11 of 13 individual swimming events. McGinnis also added a meet record, setting a new league mark in the 200 freestyle at 1:34.37.
Divers Wong, Smith Qualify for NCAA Championships
Wong and Smith were assured a pair of NCAA bids just by competing in the meet, given that seven NCAA bids were available and only seven male divers competed in the meet. However, the diving duo would have qualified for the NCAA Championships anyway with their finishes at the Zone meet.
Wong took third in the one-meter event to earn his NCAA berth, and Smith captured the platform title.
Klueh Looking to Fill Void in Texas Title History
Enter sophomore Michael Klueh, who heads to Minneapolis as a top-five seed in all three events. Klueh ranks second nationally in the 500 freestyle at 4:15.57 and second in the 1,650 freestyle at 14:42.69. He enters the meet as the fourth seed in the 400 IM at 3:45.93.
Texas Completes First Perfect Dual-Meet Season Since 2000
Texas hit the road on Friday, Nov. 10 for what proved to be a tightly-contested meet between the then third-ranked Longhorns and the 10th-ranked Florida Gators. With the score knotted at 113 heading into the meet's final event, the 400 freestyle relay, the Longhorns pulled away to the team victory behind a solid effort from junior Chris Seitz, junior Caleb McDermott, sophomore Michael Klueh and junior Matt McGinnis, finishing in 2:59.91. McGinnis and Klueh added two individual victories apiece for the Longhorns.
The top-ranked Longhorns collected nine victories en route to a 130-113 victory over four-time defending NCAA Champion Auburn on Jan. 11 at Auburn's James E. Martin Aquatic Center. Six Longhorns scored individual victories on Jan. 13 in top-ranked the Horns' 161-135 victory over No. 9 Georgia at UGA's Gabrielsen Natatorium to complete a successful weekend road swing to push its dual-meet record to 5-0.
Texas extended its dual-meet record to a perfect 7-0 on Jan. 20 when it finished off a stellar two-day meet with victories over No. 5 Arizona and SMU. The Longhorns knocked off Arizona by a 188-165 margin and defeated SMU by a 153-96 count. UT picked up two victories apiece from junior swimmer Caleb McDermott and diver Mike Wong in the wins.
The only blemish on the Longhorns' schedule came at the Texas Invitational where UT took second place with 696.50 points. Arizona captured the Invitational with 787 points.
Berens, the 2006 Swimming World National High School Swimmer of the Year, was selected as the CollegeSwimming.com National Men's Collegiate Swimmer of the Week on Tuesday, Nov. 7 after winning all three of his individual events and recording three NCAA provisional-qualifying cuts against California and Indiana.
Berens clocked 1:44.54 in the 200 butterfly at the Texas Invitational, making him the third-fastest Longhorn ever in the event. He added a time of 46.93 in the 100 butterfly at the Texas Invitational to land his second NCAA automatic-qualifying mark. With three years of eligibility remaining, Berens figures to threaten Ian Crocker's school mark in the 100 butterfly (44.72) and Rainer Kendrick's UT record in the 200 butterfly (1:43.02). Berens will represent Team USA at the 2007 Pan American Games later this summer.
Walters, who will join teammate Garrett Weber-Gale at the 2007 FINA World Championships next month in Australia, has added depth to a brilliant Longhorn freestyle corps. He took first in his 500-freestyle heat with a NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 4:24.68 at the Texas Invitational. Walters also holds a NCAA "B" cut time of 1:37.63 in the 200 freestyle.
Taylor came on strong at the Big 12 Championships, where he earned a NCAA automatic bid in the 100 backstroke with a 47.41 swim in the preliminary round. The Birmingham, Ala., native adds depth to a solid backstroke corps and bolsters UT's outstanding medley relays.
Three for Free
Big 12 Honors Three Longhorns
Reese to Coach Team USA at 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing
In 2004, Reese helped the Americans win 18 medals at the Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. The nine gold medals produced by Reese's men's swimming team accounted for one-fourth of the United States' 36 gold medals won during the 2004 Games. Five of Reese's former Longhorn swimmers - Gary Hall, Jr., Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker and Neil Walker - won medals for Team USA in Athens. Hall won gold in the 50 freestyle, and Peirsol captured the gold in the 100- and 200-backstroke events. Peirsol, Hansen and Crocker comprised three-fourths of Team USA's gold medal-winning 4x100-medley relay team.
Reese led Team USA to 13 medals, including six golds, at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.
Longhorn Student-Athletes, Coaches Await International Competition
Former Longhorns Ian Crocker (100 butterfly), Brendan Hansen (100 and 200 breaststroke) and Aaron Peirsol (100 and 200 backstroke) also will compete, as will former UT diver Troy Dumais (three-meter springboard, three-meter synchronized). Later this summer, Michael Klueh (400 and 1500 free, 800 free relay), Matt Lowe (100 breaststroke), Matt McGinnis 400- and 800-free relays) and Tyler O'Halloran (100 breaststroke) will compete in the World University Games. Freshman Ricky Berens (100 butterfly) will be joined by UT assistant coach Kris Kubik, who will serve as a USA men's assistant coach at the Pan American Games.
O'Halloran Honored by State Farm
Rohleder Selected to Big 12 Winter Sports Good Works Team
Texas' NCAA Championship History under Eddie Reese