By Steve Habel
If it seems like the Texas men’s swim team is on top step of the medal stand at the Big 12 Championships every year, there’s a reason for that assumption. The men’s team has won the league title each year since the Big 12 was formed and – with another victory last weekend at the Jamail Texas Swimming Center – the streak is now up to 35 years, since Jimmy Carter was president of the United States.
That also includes the years from 1979 (the second year of the continuing tenure of men’s swim coach Eddie Reese) to 1993 when the Longhorns’ men’s team won the Southwest Conference title. There have been 10 national titles for the men’s team under Reese’s tutelage and – with the NCAA men’s meet set to be competed in Austin later this month – another may be in the offing.
The UT men’s team racked up 1,071 points, with TCU second at 796 points and West Virginia at third at 779. Only three men’s teams compete in swimming in the Big 12, and the lack of “real” competition actually may be a hindrance to the Horns each year as they prepare for the national meet.
“There was undoubtedly a lack of focus and intensity on our team over the first few days (of the Bog 12 meet) because it lacks a ‘big game’ atmosphere, but I was happy with the way our guys finished the meet in such a dominating fashion,” Reese said.
“Winning titles never get old because we basically have to reload every year as our guys finish here and move on to bigger and better things,” Reese added. “It may be the 35th straight win for me, but for this bunch it’s their first.”
The Horns’ women’s team also won the league championship – which was their second straight under coach Carol Capitani – and have now garnered 12 of the 18 titles on the women’s side since the Big 12 was formed in 1994. UT’s women won their title by an even larger margin than the men, amassing 1,109.5 points to overwhelm second place Kansas (617 points). Iowa State was third at 541.5, followed by TCU at 525 and West Virginia at 480 points.
“There was a great positive energy and a camaraderie that allowed us not only to win but to capture a lot of other placings,” Capitani said. “They all really pushed each other and it shows by our times and results. We really came together as a team during these championships.”
The Jamail Texas Swimming Center will be the host of the NCAA men’s championships March 27-29 while the women’s championship will be held March 20-22 at the Minnesota Aquatic Center in Minneapolis.