Cal mens swim’s Will Hamilton named ‘King of the Pool’ at Cal Poly meet

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Kevin Hahn/File

After winning its third national championship in four years last season, the Cal men’s swim team picked up right where it left off: obliterating its competition. The victim of this dominant performance was Cal Poly at its annual “King of the Pool” tournament in San Luis Obispo, California, on Friday and Saturday afternoon.

On Friday, the Bears opened the tournament by relentlessly crushing the hapless Mustangs in each event held throughout the day. Cal swimmers claimed the top three positions in each of the five featured events. Ultimately, Cal senior Will Hamilton earned the fastest time — swimming a 4:07.25 overall — to be named “King of the Pool,” narrowly edging out fellow Bear and defending tournament champion Ryan Murphy, who posted a 4:08.62 cumulative time.

The exhibition tournament is a pentathlon, in which swimmers must compete in the 100-meter fly, 100-yard back, 100-yard breaststroke, 100-yard freestyle and the 100-yard individual medley. In each event, the Bears swam head-to-head against their counterparts from San Luis Obispo at the Anderson Aquatic Center. The Bears overwhelmed the Mustangs in every facet of the competition, earning the top 17 aggregate times on the day.

Hamilton earned the top times in the 100 fly, the 100 freestyle and the 100 individual medley. The senior clinched “King of the Pool” honors with a 49.15 time in the 100 medley; Hamilton’s signature event. Meanwhile, Murphy took home top individual honors for the 100 backstroke and freestyle swims, posting a 47.50 and 44.20 respectively. Cal’s Chuck Katis completed the sweep, earning the best time for the breaststroke with a time of 54.04.

The tournament was not a complete loss for host Cal Poly. Senior Jimmy Deiparine and freshman Brandon Nguyen both finished in the top 10 for the 100 breaststroke, the top finishes for any Cal Poly swimmer over the weekend — marks that were well earned against arguably the best program in the nation.

On the second day of competition, the men’s and women’s swim teams joined forces to compete in the 200-yard medley relay, 200-yard freestyle relay, 200-yard medley championship relay and 200-yard freestyle championship relay. The results were much the same, as Cal dominated the pool, taking the top four positions in each of the day’s events.

The second day of competition opened with the mixed 200-yard medley relay, in which the four members of each of the 26 teams would race in 50-yard intervals. Cal swimmers Connor Green, Chuck Katis, Noemie Thomas and Maija Roses scored the lowest aggregate time with a 1:38.40 — only 14 hundredths of a second better than Cal’s second-place unit.

In the 200-yard freestyle relay, the Bears were led by standout sophomore Murphy and took the relay with ease. Murphy swam with Fabio Gimondi, Alicia Grima and Rachael Acker, who posted a collective time of 1:29.31.

To finish off the two-day tournament, the teams both competed in the championship relay in both the medley and freestyle events. The top four teams from Cal and Cal Poly then squared off in the two events. In a display of athletic superiority, Cal swept both events, taking the top four positions in each race. Cal Poly’s best team finished a full six seconds behind the Bears’ top swimmers.

Christian Legg covers men’s swim. Contact him at [email protected].