Cal men’s swim was sent on separate journeys last weekend — one over the hills to Stockton and the other up the mountains to Salt Lake City. Both groups returned with strong victories. The Bears (2-0) defeated Pacific on Friday and Pac-12 foe Utah on Saturday, 158.5-100.5 and 188.5-111.5, respectively.
The matchup against Pacific saw a quintet of two-event winners on Cal’s side. Junior Ken Takahashi touched first in the 1000 freestyle and the 200 IM, finishing half a minute in front of second place in the former at 9:34.31. Sophomore Andy Song was the king of backstroke on the day, taking home both the 100 and 200 races. Fellow sophomore Jack Xie placed first in both 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle.
While Cal had strong individual showings, Pacific swept the relay races. The Tigers finished first with 1:30.72 in the 200 medley and 3:03.00 in the 400 freestyle relay, both about a second in front of the runner-up Cal teams. But overall, for only half of the team to come away with a 50-point victory was quite the feat.
The Bears absolutely dominated their other match in Salt Lake City, with first-place finishes in 12 of the 14 swimming events. Senior Justin Lynch took the crown in both 50 and 100 free. The other two individual event winner, junior Andrew Seliskar stopped the clock first in the 200 fly and 200 breast. Freshman Bryce Mefford touched .23 seconds before freshman Daniel Carr in the 200 back, in a race where sophomore Zheng Wen Quah followed in third, rounding out a 1-2-3 Cal finish. A photo finish between two freshmen participating in their first meets is an encouraging sign for the Bears.
The relay teams had a stronger showing in Salt Lake City, where the Bears touched with a time of 1:28.95 in the 200 medley relay to kick off the meet and 3:00.22 in the 400 free relay to close out the Cal victory.
“They kept a very positive process-oriented attitude through the course of their racing, of their day, and those are characteristics that bode well going forward as a team,” said head coach David Durden. “I really liked that. There are a lot of things that our guys could have complained about, but they avoided that and focused on what they could do to get better with their opportunities they had on each day.”
The diving team made their first splashes of the season, showing off their competitive list of dives in the thinner air of Salt Lake City, which proved to be a slight factor against the Bears favor. Sophomore Connor Callahan finished runner-up in both 1-meter and 3-meter diving events, where his scores of 329.70 and 321.30 qualified him for the NCAA Zone E Championships, the round before the national championships. Freshman Johnny Robinson had an impressive first meet in the 3-meter, placing third behind Callahan with 315.15 — short of the 320 needed to qualify for Zones.
“The guys’ performance is very indicative of how their training has been going both fortunately and unfortunately,” said diving coach Derek Starks. “Some good things showed up, some things we’re working on improving showed up also. And so overall, it was a great learning experience for everyone, especially the freshman getting in their first meet.”
While the two meets netted two victories, look for Cal to continue its process-oriented attitude through the course of their training, as this past weekend is only a small leg of the trip to Minneapolis in March.
Leo Xie covers men’s swim. Contact him at [email protected].