“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
Read that to yourself out loud a couple more times and ask yourself, what exactly does that mean?
No one on the University of Texas Men’s Swimming and Diving team knew exactly either, but their head coach Eddie Reese quoted it to them more than five times at the beginning of the season.
“It took us probably a little over a week to really come as a team and figure out what exactly it was Ed was trying to tell us by this quote,” said Grant Rodgers, a senior on the team. “Ultimately we decided he was trying to tell us to keep our focus on the right track and our minds right throughout the season and work each days towards our goal as a team.
That goal was to come out on top and to hoist the national championship trophy in Iowa City at the NCAA championships in late February. The year before, the Longhorns hosted the Division I Championships for swimming and diving at their home pool in Austin. The young and inexperienced team fell just short of the title, coming in second behind rival Cal Berkeley who won their second straight championship in a row.
Sophomore All-American, Jack Conger, never let that moment of falling just short of the national championship leave his memory. “I was only a freshman that year and to come just shy of a national championship in my first year was amazing but also extremely tough to accept. Seeing CAL jump in our pool after winning left me with a bitter taste in my mouth and I knew I was not going to let that happen again” said Conger.
“These boys work hard every day,” said head coach Eddie Reese. “Swimming is a hard sport and the season is extremely long and it can become tedious and many athletes can lose focus of what they are working for, so that’s why I presented them with the quote at the beginning of the season.”
Two hour practices in the mornings, classes throughout the day, one hour in the weight room and then another two hours of practice in the afternoon adds up for a busy day for these swimmers and divers.
When looking at the program Reese and his assistant coach, Kris Kubik, have built in the years they have been at the University, those long days amount to success and it builds these young adults into men when they cross the floor after their four years at UT.
Reese and Kubik have combined for 11 National Championships and 22 second places finishes as coaches and the swimmers GPA average is a 3.1 this season.
A 3.1 may not seem high to many, but as student athletes, that GPA really resembles the student first and then the athlete.
“It’s a long season, long practices, and lots of study hours passed in study hall,” said senior captain Kip Darmondy. “The quote Eddie cited to us really stuck with us throughout the whole season as we practiced. When we got tired and wanted to call it quits for the day, we picked one another up and reminded ourselves we are all working towards the same goal and it won’t be easy.”
A year later from when the Horns came up just short of a title, the team went into the 2015 National Championship with one goal in mind, beat CAL each day of the meet.
You may be wondering why the goal wasn’t to win the championship but rather to beat CAL?
Going into the swim meet, Texas was ranked number one in the nation and CAL second. So they knew Cal was the team to beat if they wanted to hoist the trophy.
Conger kept his word, he wasn’t going to allow Cal to come out on top. Instead he was going to hoist the trophy.
Texas demolished The University of Cal Berkeley along with every other team that tried to make a run at them. Texas won by 129 points. To put that into perspective, that is more points than what 30 teams ended up with in the three nights. California ended up with 399 points in three days. Texas had 399 points on just two days of swimming. Talk about the Longhorns really going out and making a statement.
“Don’t get me wrong, CAL is great, I have quite a few friends on that team. But I just wasn’t going to allow it happen again, and I made sure my team was on the same page as me all three days of the meet,” said Conger.
With only three seniors graduating from the national team and another great recruiting class coming in for the Texas, it is thrilling for coach Eddie and Kris to see what else these men can do in the upcoming years.
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