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Texas Athletics | March 27, 2015

Texas takes Day 1 lead at NCAA championships with three titles

  The Longhorns won the 400-yard medley relay for the first time since 2004.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Texas unloaded explosive individual and relay performances on Thursday that yielded three NCAA titles and an NCAA record on Day 1 of the 2015 NCAA Championships at Iowa's Campus Recreation Center Natatorium.

Texas leads the NCAA Championships through the first of three days with 171 points. Defending NCAA champion California sits in second with 119 points while Florida holds third place with 108 points. Michigan is in fourth place with 105 points while Alabama rounds out the top five with 79 points.

Texas swept the opening day's two relays -- the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400 medley relay -- for the first time at the NCAA Championships since 1990. The latter relay yielded NCAA, NCAA Championship and U.S. Open records, as UT claimed the 400 medley relay for the first time since 2004 in 3 minutes, 1.23 seconds.

The 400 medley relay featuring Kip Darmody, Will Licon, Joseph Schooling and Jack Conger topped the previous NCAA, NCAA Championship and U.S. Open record mark of 3:01.39 set by Auburn at the 2009 NCAA Championships.

California's Ryan Murphy opened the 400 medley relay with an American record swim with his 44.17 leadoff on backstroke. Texas' Darmody kept the Horns within striking distance with his leadoff of 45.39. The Golden Bears' stretched their lead to over two seconds after the breaststroke before Schooling took over on the butterfly and nearly ran down Cal's Justin Lynch. Schooling split a lightning fast 43.95 on the butterfly leg while Lynch split 45.47.

Cal led by about half of a second before the Bears' Seth Stubblefield matched up with Texas' Conger on the anchor leg, freestyle. Conger gave Texas the lead at the 350-yard mark and held on in the final 25 yards to give the Longhorns the win at 3:01.23 behind his anchor swim of 40.96 seconds. California placed second at 3:01.60 with Stubblefield on anchor at 41.84.

Texas opened the night by initially placing second in the 200 freestyle relay at 1:15.86, but the would-be champion at the time, NC State, was disqualified for an early takeoff. As a result, the Longhorns took home their first NCAA title in the 200 free relay since 1996 and their fifth overall. Matt Ellis led off in 19.33 before John Murray picked up the second leg in 18.85. Conger split 18.75 on the third leg before Darmody anchored in 18.93.

Clark Smith, who didn't qualify for the NCAA Championships as a freshman, became UT's first NCAA champion in the 500 freestyle. Smith, the son of former Texas swimmers John and Tori (Trees) Smith, won his first NCAA title in his first NCAA finals swim at 4:09.72, the second-fastest time in school history.

Only an American record-setting effort by Stanford's David Nolan kept Licon off the top of the 200 IM awards podium. Nolan lowered his American record and took the win in 1:39.38 to become the first swimmer to break 1:40 in the event. Licon lowered his school record once more and settled for second in 1:40.09 after clocking a school-record 1:40.68 in the preliminary round.

Cory Bowersox reached the one-meter diving finals for a third consecutive year and placed sixth at 420.00. Bowersox -- a Fairfax, Virginia, native -- scored a meet-best 80.60 points on his first dive, an inward two-and-a-half somersault. He finished strong with his forward two-and-a-half somersault with one twist in the pike position for 78.4 points to finish at 420.00.

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