Cal start fall season with eight new players

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The Cal men’s swimming team’s biggest competition this weekend will be itself.

Due to Cal’s stacked talent, the swimmers will largely compete against each another in the first invite meet this season against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Sept. 21 to 22.

The event will be hosted at Anderson Aquatic Center in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Preseason meets do not count toward the overall record, which makes this weekend a perfect opportunity for the Bears to train against the other team. These swim meets allow swimmers to gauge their progress with each other and define their strokes.

“We have to focus on technique and power with each stroke,” freshman Jacob Pebley said.

Veterans will have to step into leadership positions and the newcomers will have to meld into the team. The back-to-back national champion Bears lost eight seniors, including notable Olympians Nathan Adrian — who did not swim with the team last year — Mathias Gydesen and Martin Liivamagi.

“I believe I have (stepped) into a leadership role this season, we lost a lot of good seniors,” Will Hamilton said.

Important members from last year’s team such as senior Tom Shields (100 fly and 100 back), junior Marcin Tarczynski (200 IM) and sophomore Will Hamilton (200 fly) will need to take charge for the upcoming campaign.

The No. 2 ranked recruiting class will assuredly rejuvenate Cal. During this meet, they will also try to assimilate themselves into Cal’s lineup and develop into competitive members come spring.

Notable freshmen include Jacob Pebley, Michael Haney and Nick Dilllinger, who will replenish a depleted sprint group. Pebley is a natural at backstroke and will help alleviate pressure on Tom Shields, the reigning Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year. Transfer Tony Cox will also help Cal score in butterfly and backstroke with his exceptional times.

Every swimmer is required to compete in the 100 fly, 100 back, 100 breast, 100 free, and 100 individual medley this weekend. Swimmers look to compete among each other as much as against the other team.

The swimmer with the lowest aggregate time will be crowned “King of the Pool.” Cal’s Marcin Tarczynski earned that honor in 2010 and 2011. The men’s squad will also team up with the women’s squad for co-ed races in 200-yard medley relay and 200 freestyle relay.

Apart from the swimmers, the coaching staff is also in the midst of coping with the departure of former associate coach, Greg Meehan. Meehan will be making a rivalry leap to Stanford’s women’s swimming team. Meehan joined Cal’s staff in April 2008 and was part of an international staff as manager for Team USA at the 2007 World University Games.

Even though this meet will have no impact on their Pac-12 standing, focus is on the mind of all the swimmers and coaches.

“This is all a learning experience, we have to focus and get ready. We have to put everything that we learned together,” Hamilton said.

Hunter He covers men’s swimming.