No. 2 Cal men’s swim finished off its fall campaign on a dominant note as it finished first overall at the annual Georgia Fall Invitational this weekend, accentuated by record performances from junior Andrew Seliskar and senior Justin Lynch. Facing off against four other ranked squads, the Bears showed off their deep roster, sweeping all five relays and qualifying four swimmers for NCAA championships as part of a 1,014-point performance. No. 4 Michigan finished as the runner-up with 915 points, whereas the host school No. 12 Georgia compiled 674 points.
“The great thing about that meet was there was great competition,” said Cal head coach David Durden. “Between Georgia, (No. 10) Auburn, (No. 23) Virginia, Michigan on the men’s side, (they) brought some performances to the meet that elevated the competition level. … Our guys had to work and had to work hard.”
The tournament featured three days of swimming, with preliminaries happening in the morning while respective finals and all relays took place in the afternoon.
The Bears took home both the 200 free and 400 medley relays on the first day of swimming. Sophomore Pawel Sendyk, freshman Ryan Hoffer, sophomore Michael Jensen and Lynch combined for a 1:15.73 finish in the 200 free. Two Cal squads touched first and second in the 400 medley, but it was the group of senior Matthew Josa, junior Carson Sand, Lynch and Hoffer that prevailed by less than a second to take the crown. It was a trifecta for Hoffer, who edged out Sendyk in the 50 free by four hundredths of a second to win in 19.13.
Day Two’s afternoon session began the same way Day One ended, with a pair of lineups finishing one-two in the 200 medley relay, as freshman Daniel Carr, senior Connor Hoppe, Lynch and Hoffer finished first in 1:23.44. Josa won the 100 fly, swimming 45.28 in the finals, an NCAA A time. Carr got his second win of the day with a 45.96 finish in the 100 back.
The team punctuated a strong second day of swimming with a decisive showing in the 800 free relay, as juniors Mike Thomas and Seliskar combined with sophomores Jensen and Quah Zheng Wen to finish in 6:16.08, more than five seconds ahead of second place and almost four seconds faster than the NCAA A standard.
The Bears’ first win of the final day was an impressive swim in the 100 free courtesy of Lynch, whose time of 42.01 ranked second in the country this season. Seliskar recorded the nation’s fastest time in the 200 breast with 1:53.05, netting him the victory in the process.
In the last men’s individual swim event, Quah and Thomas finished one-two in the 200 fly, earning themselves tickets to the NCAA championship in March with A times of 1:40.68 and 1:41.22, respectively. To cap off a successful weekend, Cal captured its final win in the 400 free relay.
“What we value is how we go about our business day-to-day,” Durden said. “Within that, we had some great performances within across the board with our guys. I just really like how they moved through their swimming and their swims.”
As a team, Cal qualified for NCAA championships in all five relays and currently holds the nation’s fastest times in four of those five. The lone exception is the 800 free relay, in which it is second to three-time defending NCAA champion No. 7 Texas. After a strong fall season, Cal looks primed to dethrone Texas for the title come March.