Cal men’s swimming and diving team breezes past No.11 Stanford in last home meet of the season

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Phillip Downey/File

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The 50 free. If you’re fast, the race should be over less than 20 seconds. Twenty seconds of arms frantically splicing the water like helicopter propellers. Twenty seconds to prove yourself in front of hundreds of parents gathered for the last home meet of the season.

Freshman Michael Jensen, however, was not fazed by the crowd. He championed the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 19.70 and went on to win the 100-yard freestyle for the No. 2 Cal men’s swimming and diving team Saturday. These were both important wins for the Bears, as they triumphed over No. 11 Stanford, 136-105, to conclude this semester’s dual meet season.

Before the start of the meet, seniors Ryan Murphy, Long Gutierrez, Hunter Cobleigh, Dillon Williams and Jonathan Fiepke were honored with a ceremony to mark the last time they would be competing at Spieker Aquatic Center in their Cal uniforms. Each swimmer ran through the teammate-made tunnel to find their parents eagerly awaiting them on the other side.

While the Bears have their sights set on the championship meets to come, the ceremony forced the five seniors to slow down and reflect on their past four years with the team.

“It is probably one of the happiest and also saddest moments that I have had in my college swimming career,” Gutierrez said. “It is an incredible feeling, just knowing that we have gotten so close together and bonded together as a class.”

The Bears’ win was then fueled by the energy of the seniors who put themselves out of their comfort zone to swim atypical races.

For example, Gutierrez competed in the 500-yard freestyle, which he had not swam since his sophomore year, logging a time of 4:24.12 — one of his personal bests in the event.

Murphy recorded a pool best time of 1:44.85 in the 200-yard IM and lead the 200-yard medley relay — consisting of himself, juniors Connor Hoppe and Matthew Josa and freshman Pawel Sendyk — to a pool record of 1:25.61.

Sophomore Andrew Seliskar went for a triple win in the 200-yard freestyle (1:35.46), 200-yard butterfly (1:44.85) and 200-yard breastroke (1:57.01).

As the Bears solidified win after win in the sprints, the Cardinal relied on its prowess in diving and distance freestyle events to creep up the leaderboard.

Stanford freshman True Sweetser took the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 9:00.25, touching the wall over nine seconds ahead of any other finisher. Senior Bradley Christensen and freshman Cameron Thatcher went one and two in the 1-meter diving, putting Cal freshman Connor Callahan in the third-place position. Callahan was knocked down to fourth place in the 3-meter diving.

The meet was a short-order format, composed of 13 events and not including the 100-yard backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly.

“The event order does not necessarily favor us. It takes some guys out of events that we are good in,” said Cal head coach David Durden. “In a 13-event order, if you really exercise your dominance in four events, you can put yourselves in a position to win … so the second, third and fourth place finishes for us today were really important.”

While the Bears sealed the dual meet win handily, they will need to focus in on distance and diving events to have a clear shot at the national title moving forward.

Lucy Schaefer covers men’s swimming. Contact her at [email protected]