After a three week break from competing, the No. 4 Texas A&M men’s swimming and diving team headed downstream to sink the University of Incarnate Word and Trinity University at the Holiday Invitational in San Antonio on Dec. 16.
The Aggies entered Monday’s competition at Palo Alto Pool ranked fourth in the nation, their highest ranking since 2001 according to the latest CSCAA poll. The men’s team previously ranked 10th ahead of the Dec. 11 coaches survey.
Posting a combined total of 308 points for the day, the Aggies defeated the Incarnate Word Cardinals 155-91 and handled the Tigers with similar ease, beating Trinity by a score of 153-80. With the pair of wins, the men’s team advances to 5-2 on the season.
Though the competition was held in the midst of winter vacation, A&M coach Jay Holmes said his team came to win.
“This was a good day of racing for us,” Holmes told 12thman.com. “Historically this is a hard time of the year to get a team really invested in a meet. This was the best meet our team has had for this time of the year that I can remember. We had a real good effort level all day.”
Nine different Aggies swam away with first place in Monday’s double-dual contest, with three seniors netting gold.
Adam Koster won the 100-meter free in 44.14, two seconds shy of his record-setting performance at the Art Adamson Invite on Nov. 23. Koster also placed first in the 100-meter butterfly (49.03), while Mike Thibert won the 100-meter backstroke and 50-meter freestyle with times of 51.13 and 20.58. Benjamin Walker tallied another first place in the 200 meter backstroke (1:52.61).
Holmes said he was pleased with Monday’s efforts from the upperclassmen.
“Adam’s two wins were a bit different in that the 100 free was just executed real well, unlike the 100 fly, that was just a tough swim,” Holmes said.
Monday marked the ninth matchup between A&M and Incarnate Word. The win closes the Aggies’ decade with a 9-0 head-to-head record against the Cardinals.
Juniors Gus Karau and Hudson Smith earned first place finishes as individual swimmers for the first time in their collegiate careers. Karau won the 1,000-meter freestyle in 9:41.14, while Smith took over the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 4:35.01. Junior Tanner Olson added a win in the 100-meter breaststroke (55.99).
Two freshmen also paved the way for the Aggies’ victories on Monday. Jace Brown won the 200-meter butterfly in 1:49.34, and Andres Puente took home the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:01.42.
Sophomore Shaine Casas followed his multiple record-breaking performance at the Art Adamson Invite with a win in the 200-meter freestyle (1:38.43). Holmes said he expected nothing less from Casas, who currently leads the nation in the 100-meter backstroke (44.48) and 200-meter individual medley (1:40.16).
“[Shaine] Casas again did his usual, but another swimmer we were happy with was [Mark] Schnippenkoetter, pushing Shaine to that 200 free win,” Holmes said. “Both of them were 1:38’s. I don’t know if Shaine would have gone 1:38 if Mark hadn’t been there on his shoulder the whole time.”
The Aggies will return to the pool on Jan. 11, 2020 to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens at 9 a.m.