Texas' Joseph Schooling gestures after winning the 100-yard butterfly at the NCAA men's swimming and diving championships at Georgia Tech, Friday, March 25, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Swimming & Diving

How does Texas top back-to-back NCAA titles? How about a three-peat?

Posted March 28th, 2016

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Story highlights
  • Joseph Schooling, who won five NCAA titles, will represent Singapore in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
  • In 2017, UT will seek its third three-peat and also will try to break a tie with Michigan for most-ever NCAA titles.
  • Longhorns coach Eddie Reese said he expects his swimmers to "wreak havoc" at this summer's Olympic trials.

Some compassionate soul had the foresight to suggest Mike Perrin bring a spare change of clothes to the final day of the NCAA swimming and diving championships Saturday.

Absent that advice, Perrin, the first-year athletic director at Texas, might have had a squishy seat on the flight home from Atlanta after making a celebratory plunge into the pool at Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center.

“I had advance notice that the guys might want me to do that,” Perrin said.

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Perrin, who saw Texas win its first national title since he became the school’s athletic director last September, could very well be in for another celebratory dip a year from now; the Longhorns, who have won back-to-back national championships, will return their core of major point scorers and are expected to stay afloat atop the nation in 2017.

Save for a handful of departing seniors, pretty much everyone who made a significant contribution to the 541.5 points Texas scored last weekend will be around to take aim at a three-peat in 2017, which would break a tie with Michigan for the most national titles in NCAA swimming and diving history. Cal, which finished second with 351 points, also will be lurking, as will Florida (334) and others.

All 12 of UT’s titles have been captured under coach Eddie Reese, who, with this most recent one, passed Ohio State’s Mike Peppe for the most championships in NCAA history.

Remarkably, Reese’s teams have finished in the top three of the nation in 30 of his 38 seasons at Texas.

“I visited with Eddie my second day on the job last fall and knew we had a chance for a really successful season. That came to fruition,” Perrin said Sunday evening, at the Tower lighting ceremony on the UT campus. “He’s such a great leader that you come to expect great results.”

Reese, who is perhaps more qualified than anyone to speak on the subject, sees no good reason why next year shouldn’t yield another title.

“This team coming back next year — if everyone gets better — there’s not anybody that can beat us,” Reese said.

Sophomore Joseph Schooling, who won five titles, said the goal for 2017 is to continue to progress and to break individual records. If all goes well, UT could pull off a three-peat for the third time in program history (1989-91, 2000-02) and for the first time nationally since 2007, when Auburn won the last of its five straight championships.

“We’re gonna continue to try and improve and we’re gonna try to hit maybe 600 points next year,” said Schooling, who shared swimmer of the meet honors with Cal’s Ryan Murphy and Florida’s Caeleb Dressel. “Our goal is to always break records and reach new standards.”

Though the heavy-hitters are all coming back, some young members of the team will need to emerge on relays and and replace seniors and multi-time All-Americans John Murray and Matt Ellis.

Reese said he expects his swimmers to “wreck havoc” at the Olympic Trials this June and that “three to six” of them have a real shot of participating in the Rio Games. One of them, Schooling, has already secured a bid to participate for Singapore, just as he did in the 2012 London Olympics. American hopefuls include junior Jack Conger (runner-up, 200 butterfly); junior Will Licon (champion, 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley); junior Clark Smith (champion, 800 freestyle relay); and freshman Townley Haas (champion, 200 freestyle).

“Every Olympic year, the athletes make the coaches look better than they are because they work harder and they do less to harm themselves outside of the pool,” Reese said. “This group was beyond anything I’ve ever had. They’ve just done a great job.”

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