ATLANTA (AP) — Eddie Reese has been coaching for 38 years and he has never seen anyone swim faster than Townley Haas did Wednesday to help Texas take the early lead in the NCAA men's swimming and diving championships.
Defending champion Texas won the 800-yard freestyle relay in an NCAA-record 6 minutes, 8.03 seconds, with Haas swimming the second leg in an NCAA-record 1:30.52 to give the Longhorns a big lead.
"It was all coaching," Reese said. "I tried to say that without a smile . . . That gives me chills. That comes from chasing Clark Smith in every workout. He is relentless. We felt like (Haas) would be our best split, but we didn't know it'd be that fast."
Haas' split of 1:30.52 smoked the NCAA record of 1:31.20 set by Arizona's Simon Burnett in 2006.
N.C. State was second in 6:09.58, and Florida followed in 6:09.84. Michigan set the previous record of 6:09.85 in 2014.
After the first final in the four-day event at Georgia Tech's McAuley Aquatic Center, Texas had 40 points. North Carolina State was second at 34, followed by Florida at 32, California at 30, and Georgia at 28. The Longhorns have 11 national titles, one short of Michigan's record.
Texas switched the order of swimmers for the final, moving up Haas, from Richmond, Virginia, and Clark to third. Clark, a junior, swam a little too hard in a previous meet, and Reese wanted to give him a break.
Jack Conger gave Texas the lead with an opening 1:31.89, and Haas was considerably faster than Florida's Jan Switkowski (1:31.33) in the second leg, so Clark had it easy. His 1:33.28 split was third best among third-leggers, and sophomore Joseph Schooling's 1:32.34 was the second-fastest anchor. The same four Longhorns won the Big 12 in 6:15.48, nearly 6.5 seconds slower.
"All of them are tough. Joe will not let people pass him, no matter what," Reese said. "We figured nobody could stay with Jack and Townley, the two of them back to back. So we'd have a lead . . . we wanted (Clark) to go in where he'd be a little bit relaxed."
Reese, whose program has produced 39 Olympians who have combined for 42 gold medals, 16 silver medals and nine bronzes, likes the NCAA's new four-day format.
"Without a doubt, I loved it," he said. "This is a great gift to the athletes."
This article was written by Matt Winkeljohn from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.