27 Jul

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Texas swimmer Will Licon named Big 12 Conference Co-Men’s Athlete of the Year

IRVING, Texas – The Big 12 Conference announced Thursday the selection of former Texas swimmer Will Licon as a co-recipient of the 2016-17 Big 12 Conference Men's Athlete of the Year award. The first male or female swimmer to win a share of the league's top award, Licon joins Kansas basketball's Frank Mason as a co-recipient of the men's award.

Nominations are submitted to the league office based upon a student-athlete's athletic performance, academic achievement and citizenship. The award recipients were selected by a media panel and a fan vote through Big12Sports.com.

"It's really special and humbling to receive this award, and I appreciate the consideration from the media panel and the fans," Licon said. "I've had the opportunity to watch Frank Mason through the years, and I'm honored to share this award with him. College swimming and diving is stacked with some really deep conferences. My teammates and I are happy to have carried the flag for the Big 12 and keep the league on top these last three years."

Licon is the first Longhorn selected as a Big 12 Men's Athlete of the Year since Taylor Jungmann (baseball) in 2010-11. The El Paso native joins an elite group of Longhorns men to win the award that includes Ricky Williams (1998-99), Derrick Johnson (2004-05) and Vince Young (2005-06) in addition to Jungmann.

Eleven Longhorns have been selected 13 times as a Big 12 Athlete of the Year since the first award was handed out in 1997 (full listing below).

"This wouldn't even be remotely possible if not for the training environment we have at Texas," Licon said. "I've had the best coaches I could have ever asked for – from Eddie Reese and Kris Kubik to Wyatt Collins and Chase Kreitler – and my teammates are like brothers to me. This is a team award, and it's all for them."

Licon produced another record-breaking year and cemented his place among college swimming's all-time greats during the 2016-17 season. He became the fourth swimmer in the history of college swimming, and the first in 17 years, to win NCAA titles in four different individual events throughout his career at the NCAA Championships. It's a particularly unique feat, given that swimmers are limited to three individual events at a single NCAA Championship meet.

Last March, Licon became the first Texas or Big 12 swimmer ever to win three NCAA individual titles at a single NCAA Championship meet. What's more, he helped the Longhorns break their own NCAA record for a third straight year in the 400 medley relay and helped Texas break Michigan's NCAA record en route to victory in the 200 medley relay. His efforts helped Texas men's swimming and diving win its NCAA-leading 13th national title and maintain its standing as the most decorated program in the Big 12's 21-year history.

Licon opened the second night of the 2017 NCAA Championships by successfully defending his national title in the 200 individual medley. He ended the evening by helping UT to its third consecutive NCAA title in the 400 medley relay, where Texas rewrote its own NCAA, U.S. Open, NCAA Championship meet and Big 12 records. Texas was well on its way to a third consecutive NCAA team title by the third of four nights at the NCAA Championships, but Licon kept his foot on the gas anyway. He made history with his NCAA title in the 100 breaststroke, which made him the fourth swimmer ever to win four separate individual events at the NCAA Championships.

If that wasn't enough, Licon finished night three with a bang at the 2017 NCAA Championships, as he helped Texas seize a national title and NCAA, U.S. Open, NCAA Championship meet and Big 12 records in the 200 medley relay.  Licon capped his collegiate career the only way he knew how, as he rewrote his own NCAA, American, U.S. Open, NCAA Championship meet and Big 12 records on his way to a third consecutive NCAA title in the 200 breaststroke.

Licon won NCAA titles in all five of his events at the NCAA Championships, and Texas ran away to its third straight NCAA title. Licon was selected for the second time in three years as the Big 12 Men's Swimmer of the Year.

He completed his collegiate career at Texas with 11 NCAA titles (seven individual, four relay), 18 All-America honors (16 All-American, 2 honorable mention All-American), 12 Big 12 titles and two selections as the Big 12 Men's Swimmer of the Year (2015 & 2017). He holds Big 12 and school records in four individual events (200 & 400 IM, 100 & 200 breaststroke) and co-owns school and Big 12 records in the 200 and 400 medley relays.

A three-time Academic All-Big 12 selection, Licon was the 2017 men's recipient of the UT Athletics Academic Leadership Award. The sport management major also was a member of the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor roll.

A member of the Texas Cowboys service organization at UT, Licon participated in UT Athletics' Orange Santa toy drive and the MLK Day of Service. He was selected as a Big 12 Champion for Life and subsequently recognized a high school teacher in the Big 12 Champions for Life/CFP Foundation Extra Yard for Teachers program.

Digital Editor for and article junkie for Horns Illustrated. Father of 4. Heisman Trophy winner winner.   Follow me on Twitter at @GoGoGonzilla .