UT swimmer, brother of Virginia Tech survivor, up for national award

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Townley Haas will step on the blocks Friday night going for his fourth National Championship in the 200 Free at the NCAA Men’s Swimming Championships here in Austin. The road for the University of Texas senior swimmer is filled with Olympic Medals, NCAA Championships and, most recently, he set the NCAA record in the Men’s 500 Free and anchored the Men’s 200 Free Relay to a win and NCAA, American and U.S Open record time.

Haas will wrap up his collegiate swimming career this week at the Lee and Joe Jamail Swim Center as Texas goes for their fifth straight National Swimming and Diving Championship.

The senior UT swimmer has a lot on his mind with swimming competition, but the one thing he thinks about daily is his sister, Emily. 

It’s honestly amazing she can do all that (survivor, teacher, mom) — that she’s that tough,  Haas told KXAN’s Roger Wallace on More Than The Score this week.  Emily was one of the shooting victims at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007. Emily survived two bullets in the head and is now a teacher, mother and the constant motivation for Haas. 

Swimming has been a family affair for Haas’ family.  Townley, his brother Wyatt and sister Emily all swam at an early age together back in his home state of Virginia. Wyatt was even at one time Townley’s coach.  Mom Lori is the Virginia State Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

The Sullivan Awards, for the top collegiate amateur athlete in the United States, are ironically on April 16. Should Haas win this prestigious award, he will become the first UT athlete to do so.  The date is not lost on both Townley and Emily, and while they spend most April 16s together, this year will be different.  Twelve years of motivation from his sister Emily might now include being named the top amateur athlete of the year.

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