Reese brings championship experience in 39th season

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Head coach Eddie Reese has guided the Longhorns to 12 national titles during his career. But he said his student athletes’ growth during their time on campus is more important.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

One cannot build a legendary resume overnight.

It takes years of hard work and dedication, which Eddie Reese knows entering his 39th season as Texas’ head coach.

Reese has racked up accolades throughout his career. He boasts 37 consecutive Big 12 Championships, 12 national titles and sent numerous swimmers to the Olympics.

And senior Clark Smith, an Olympic gold medalist, raves about his head coach, especially in regards to his own Olympic success.

“I think it’s just mostly a testament of Eddie’s coaching,” Smith said. “He’s been so successful and been around for so long; he just knows what he’s doing. He’s one of the greatest coaches in the country, if not the world.”

Reese has coached on the international level, including coaching the American and Singaporean national teams. He also coached swimming legend Michael Phelps with Team USA.

Reese said he knows what makes a winner and what it takes to finish first. After seeing plenty of Olympians over the years, he can tell which swimmers are primed for success.

“Eighty percent like to win, 20 percent hate to lose and 95 percent of the Olympic team comes from the hate to lose group,” Reese said. “So anybody that’s ever been on an Olympic team you assume they’ve got the killer instinct, which means they hate to lose. So you always know they’re gonna be great in a race.”

In the first meet of the season in Bloomington, Indiana, the Longhorns lost to Indiana. Individually, senior Jack Conger swept the butterfly races and senior Clark Smith was named the National Swimmer of the week. However, Reese focuses on team success while also stressing personal development. 

“Well, that’s always good,” Reese said of Conger and Smith’s individual outings. “But the last meet Indiana beat us, and no one anywhere likes to lose.”

With each win and even with each rare loss, Reese’s legacy continues to grow daily as new swimmers come and the old go. The tides of change have proven ineffective to coach Reese, who has been around the pool long enough to become immune to the distinct smell of chlorine.

“Actually as old as I am, I don’t smell it anymore,” Reese said. 

Texas can add its third-straight national championship this year. Still, Reese doesn’t feel pressure to win. 

Though Reese has proven to be the finest of winners throughout his career, he’s focused on improving his athletes in and out of the pool as well. He said the accolades and championships come second to his relationships and goals for individual swimmers.

“I don’t know that [there’s pressure],” Reese said. “I don’t feel it. I always, I’ve never had a goal to be an Olympic coach, never had a goal to win an NCAA, all I want to do is make her faster, you faster, you faster. Even if it kills you. I love that statement. We work real hard.”