INDIANAPOLIS – Two-time defending NCAA champion Texas took a sizable step toward a third consecutive NCAA team title with four victories, two NCAA records and a new American record Thursday evening on day two at the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Swimming and Diving Championships.
Texas opened the night six points behind first-place N.C. State, but it would not stay there for long. The Longhorns won their third NCAA 200 freestyle relay title in as many years and its seventh overall, as junior Brett Ringgold, senior Jack Conger, sophomore Tate Jackson and junior Joseph Schooling were victorious in 1 minute, 14.59 seconds. The swim broke the school record of 1:14.88 set by Ringgold, Schooling, Conger and former Longhorn John Murray.
Ringgold led off the relay in 18.96 seconds before Conger split a blistering 18.37 seconds on the second leg. Jackson picked up leg three in 18.92 before Schooling anchored in a scorching 18.34 to deliver Texas the victory. Florida took second at 1:14.88 while California placed third at 1:15.29.
All-America senior Clark Smith won his second NCAA 500 freestyle title in the last three seasons and knocked down the door to the NCAA and American records he had threatened since 2015. Smith, a Rio Olympics gold medalist in the 4x200m freestyle relay, rewrote the 11-year-old NCAA record and nine-year-old American record, as he edged out teammate Townley Haas in 4:08.42.
Smith broke the NCAA record of 4:08.60 set by Michigan's Peter Vanderkaay at the 2006 NCAA Championships and eclipsed Vanderkaay's American record of 4:08.54 from 2008. Haas, the 2016 NCAA champion in the event, took a close second in the race at 4:08.92, as Texas won it for the third consecutive year at the NCAA Championships.
"It's nice to go out like this," Smith said. "Last year I didn't have the meet I wanted to. I just remember how I felt watching the final last year when I was at the end of the race tonight."
All-America senior Will Licon entered the meet as the defending NCAA champion in the 200 IM, and while he shared the honor of national champion Thursday, he left the pool with his second straight national crown and fifth NCAA individual title of his sterling career. Licon sat in third behind Cal's Ryan Murphy and Andrew Seliskar heading into the final 50 yards, but he ran them both down and tied Florida's Mark Szaranek for the national title in 1:40.67. Junior Jonathan Roberts joined Licon in the final and placed eighth at 1:42.56.
Texas sent Schooling to the 50 freestyle championship final where he placed third at 18.79 seconds. Ringgold won the event's consolation final in 18.97 seconds, a personal best, while Conger took second at 19.05. Jackson placed eighth in the consolation final at 19.69.
Senior Mark Anderson made his second consecutive NCAA finals appearance on one-meter and placed seventh overall with 395.20 points after qualifying eighth with 363.55 points in the preliminary round.
Texas win its 3rd straight 400 medley relay in an NCAA record 2:59.22!!! NCAASwimDive pic.twitter.com/e4N2oQKBwh— Texas Men'sSwimDive (@TexasMSD) March 24, 2017
Texas capped the night by lowering its NCAA record and winning its third consecutive NCAA title in the 400 medley relay. Sophomore John Shebat broke UT's 25-year-old school record in the 100 backstroke earlier in the day, and he lowered it once more to 44.58 while leading off the medley relay. Licon picked up the breaststroke leg in a career-best split of 49.75 seconds before giving way to Schooling, who split a meet-best 43.60 seconds on butterfly.
Conger anchored the relay in 41.29 seconds, as Texas produced the first relay ever to dip below three minutes. The Longhorns finished in 2:59.22, which shattered the same quartet's NCAA record from the 2016 NCAA Championships.
Texas completed night two at the NCAA Championships in first place with 225.5 points. California sits in second with 143 points while Florida holds third with 138.5 points. N.C. State is in fourth place with 123 points and Indiana rounds out the top-five with 121 points.
Day three of the NCAA Championships gets underway Friday at 10 a.m. ET with finals set for 6 p.m. ET. You can follow it live here.