Austin Surhoff relives Men's Swimming and Diving's run to NCAA title
April 14, 2010
Swimming at Texas has been everything I’ve hope it would be since the day I signed with UT. Everything from that moment on led to us winning the NCAA title last month. I couldn’t be any happier about how it happened. It was not a perfect road, but it was a perfect finish.
On the first day of the NCAA Championships, I felt like most of my body was numb before the preliminary round. We had the delay with the meet, and I figured that after everything we had been through that it was time to leave it all in the pool in my first event, the 200 IM. I wanted to make a good first impression. Ricky Berens was in my prelims heat with me. We needed to make an early statement that Texas was here to win.
I finished the race and thought, “Wow, I don’t think I’ll ever feel good again.” But, I looked up at the board and saw that Ricky and I had gone 1-2 in the heat. I expected myself to get into the “A” final, so I was pumped when I saw Ricky and I had made it.
Before my 200 IM final that night, we were over in the ready area, and I was feeling some nerves. Ricky told me to get back in the warm-up pool, swim another 50 (yards) and go win the race. That got me ready to go
When I swim, I let my training and my instincts take over. I knew I was in first toward the end of the race, and I had just enough to touch the wall first before Florida’s Shaune Fraser. It hit me like a freight train when I saw the “1” next to my name.
When Sunday morning came around, I remembered that everything we trained for led to that moment right there. We needed to go out in the prelims and bring it home for Texas. We had a meeting before the prelims, and a lot of the guys – Ricky Berens, Alan Maher, Hill Taylor, Scott Spann, whomever wanted to speak up – had something to say. It was like we were marching into a battle.
It all started with Hill Taylor’s 200 backstroke, where he tied for the last spot in the championship final from the first preliminary heat. Everyone got pumped up after seeing that. He brought great energy to that race.
When I went out for my 200 back, it felt like every good 200 back I had ever swum, but I had the biggest drop in time I’ve ever had. All I cared about was making that championship final to score points in the top-eight. We wanted to let everyone take care of their business and go win the meet.
Our swimmers and divers did their jobs the rest of the day, and in the last event, the 400 free relay, it was fitting for Ricky Berens to be the last one in the pool. When Auburn won last year, he was one of the guys who took it harder than anyone. So, it was poetic justice to see him out there finishing the win for us.
When Ricky finished in that relay, at that moment, we lost our old selves and became new people. We weren’t stressing out about reaching this one goal anymore. Nineteen of us had just reached a goal that we all put our hearts and souls into, and it was something I just cannot describe. I’ve never seen so many people want something so bad, and it was gratifying to see everyone get what they worked for this season.
Now, it feels like everyone coming back has a job to do. We have a responsibility to hold our position at the top. The 2010-11 season starts now.