The Hoosiers aren’t traveling nearly 3,000 miles for some California sunshine.
As the Cal men’s swim team prepares to host Indiana on Friday afternoon at Spieker Aquatic Complex, the squad hopes to build upon the momentum from last Thursday’s meet against Pacific. Although some may expect to chalk up Friday’s meet as an easy win for Cal, the Bears understand Indiana present stronger swimmers than Pacific did.
“If they’re coming all the way out here, they’re going to be great,” said senior Shayne Fleming. “We just have to be prepared for faster competition.”
The Bears are known for their overall dominance in the pool, but the flaws that appeared during the Pacific meet must be fixed if Cal hopes to beat Indiana. Cal coach David Durden expects the team to present a more polished effort Friday against the Hoosiers in the second of Cal’s three dual meets at Spieker this season.
“We’re going to have to be better if we want to beat Indiana,” Durden said. “They’re here to race.”
There are certain opponents and events that the Bears are used to facing year in and year out. Cal faces Stanford annually during November’s Triple Distance Meet and also competes against many West Coast teams, such as Pacific and USC. Indiana, however, will be a new addition to Cal’s list of competitors and will be an unknown entity for the Bears. Fleming has never faced the Hoosiers during his time at Cal.
“To be honest, they’re kind of a mystery,” Fleming said. “We have a couple swimmers who know some of their guys, but they’ll be bringing some pretty new competition on Friday.”
Friday’s meet will provide the Bears with a chance to improve their performance from last Thursday and help freshman swimmers become accustomed to dual-meet competition. The season’s opening meet against Pacific was the first dual-meet-style competition for many of the new swimmers, who must learn everything from the event order to formatting. Adjustments must be made, skills must be honed and seconds must be shaved as the Bears anticipate faster opponents during Friday’s meet.
As the inaugural stage of the season begins to wane, refining every aspect of performance becomes critical for the Cal squad. Durden has previously emphasized the significance of preparation outside of the pool, such as strength and conditioning training, to better swimmers’ execution in the pool. Despite the Bears’ commanding victory in last Thursday’s meet, the team will continue to stress the value of improvement and recognizing when and where it is necessary. Each dual meet during the fall is a stepping stone in preparation for championship season in the winter. Each competition is a chance for the team to be stronger, faster and better prepared.
“The goal coming into this week is simply to be better than we were last week,” Fleming said. “With a second chance, you get a second opportunity to be better.”
Come Friday, what is important will not be in the margin of victory or defeat but in the progress that has been made in and out of the pool.
Michelle Lee covers men’s swim. Contact her at [email protected].