No. 1 Cal men’s swim dominates final home meets to remain undefeated

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Maya Vallaru/Staff

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No. 1 Cal men’s swim (4-0) wrapped up its final home meets of the season with flying colors this past weekend with a pair of dual meet wins over No. 10 Arizona State (2-4) and No. 18 Arizona (1-3) by scores of 158-133 and 165-123, respectively. The eight seniors on Cal’s squad swam in home waters for the final time representing the Bears and were recognized briefly prior to the second of the two meets.

“It was weird,” said Cal senior Nick Silverthorn. “It seemed like not too long ago, I was a senior in high school watching my future teammates compete at the Cal-Arizona meet for their Senior Day, and now I’m competing in it myself.”

Emotions aside, the nation’s top squad put up dominating performances on both days, with swimmers emerging victorious in 13 out of 14 events against the Sun Devils on Friday and 12 out of 14 against the Wildcats on Saturday.

“I think our guys are in a really good consistent spot,” Cal head coach Dave Durden said. “They’ve earned the right to be there, as hard as they have worked through the fall, even into the spring, into January now — they’ve earned the right to swim really well here.”

The Bears kicked off the weekend with the B relay squad edging out Arizona State’s A squad for first place in the 400 medley relay. Cal junior Nick Norman took the first individual event of the weekend with a statement win in the 1000 free, posting a season best 9:00.04 — more than 10 seconds ahead of second place.

Senior Justin Lynch, sophomore Pawel Sendyk and freshman Ryan Hoffer finished one-two-three in the 50 free, with Lynch and Sendyk doing so in less than 20 seconds. A pair of freshmen battled for first place in the 200 back, with Bryce Mefford approaching the wall first, less than half a second before Daniel Carr.

“When it came time for them to race, they put energy, emotion into the race,” Durden said. “As they pulled out of that race, they were able to pull back and see and watch and critique and help each other as teammates.”

Two Cal relay squads kicked off Saturday’s competition against Arizona with one-two finishes in the 200 medley relay. Freshman Sean Grieshop survived a frenetic comeback attempt from Wildcat freshman Brooks Fail in the final 100 yards of the 1000 free for the second Bears victory of the day.

Cal showed off its depth in freestyle events as the team completed its first trifecta of the day in the 200 free, with junior Mike Thomas winning in 1:36.39 and seniors Ryan Kao and Kyle Coan touching right after Thomas.

Although their times were counted for exhibition and were not scored, senior Matthew Josa battled with Lynch — the December Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month — in the 100 fly, with the former narrowly beating the latter by 0.04 seconds.

The divers were also in action on both days down the street from the swimmers at Legends Aquatic Center.

Sophomore Connor Callahan led the way for the Bears, putting up a pair of season bests in both 1-meter and 3-meter events Friday against Arizona State. He scored 349.13 in the 1-meter en route to a second-place finish and 359.48 in the 3-meter for a third-place finish, behind Sun Devil sophomore Youssef Selim.

Freshman Jackson Gabler improved on his Friday performance in the 1-meter by nearly 30 points Saturday for a score of 275.40.

The two weekend meets certainly provided plenty of promise for the Bears as they approach the final stretch in their season, but work remains to be done for Cal to reach its goal of making noise at the top of the scoreboards during NCAA championships in March.

Leo Xie covers men’s swim. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @leoxie_24