Cincinnati, BYU and Houston women set to step up big 12 swim

Cincinnati, BYU and Houston women set to step up Big 12 swimming in years to come

After weeks of supposedly expanding the Big 12 conference, we now know that four universities will be participating in the next few years. The University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma are each slated to leave for the SEC in 2025 (or maybe sooner), and now we now know that Brigham Young University, University of Cincinnati, University from Houston and the University of Central Florida will all join the conference.

BYU and Cincinnati both have women’s and men’s swim teams that they will take to the Big 12, and Houston has a women’s team. With the departure of the women’s and men’s teams from Texas after 2025, that will likely leave a women’s swimming conference made up of incumbents Texas Christian University, West Virginia University, Kansas University and Iowa State University as well as newcomers BYU, Cincinnati and Houston. The men’s group will feature four teams – TCU, West Virginia, BYU and Cincinnati – and this will mark the first time in recent memory that the Big 12 men’s swimming will feature more than three teams. Currently, the group consists of only Texas, TCU and West Virginia, and prior to 2012 only Texas, Texas A&M and Missouri were in the conference for men’s swimming.

In the 2020-21 season, the Cincinnati men were second at the American Athletic Conference (AAC) championships, and the women were third. Meanwhile, the Houston women, also known as Cougars, comfortably won the AAC last season. Houston scored nine points at the NCAA Women’s Championships. Senior Ioanna Sacha was 15th in the 200 backstroke and 16th in the 200 IM, and his senior colleague Mykenzie Leehy was 12th in the 200 freestyle and 16th in the 100 freestyle. Junior diver Chase Farris therefore competed. The only swimmer from a future Big 12 swim school at the men’s championships was Cincinnati senior Blake hanna, who finished 28th in the 100 backstroke, 30th in the 200 backstroke and 47th in the 200 IM.

The BYU men won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) swimming championships this year, while the Cougar women finished second behind Hawaii. BYU has attended the West Coast Conference in the past for most sports, but the WCC doesn’t offer swimming, so the MPSF was the destination.

From a swimming perspective, these are important new teams to recharge a conference that will be hit hard when Texas leave the group. The Longhorns were one of the most successful NCAA swim teams in history, and they carried the Big 12 swim flag. The Texas men, NCAA champions in 2021 and in five of the last six NCAA Championships, have won every Big 12 swimming championship since the inception of the conference in 1996. Meanwhile, the Texas women have won every Big 12 title since the departure of rival Texas A&M. conference in 2012. Texas will now head to the SEC, and while the realignment is driven entirely by football and financial decisions, the move that is expected to create a swimming mega-conference.

BYU will join the team for the 2023-24 sports season, so after two more full seasons, while the other schools will enter by July 1, 2024. Texas and Oklahoma are currently expected to remain in the Big 12 until 2024-25, so that could mean a year of eight Big 12 women’s teams and five men’s teams (unless Texas negotiated a move to the SEC earlier).

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