Sparks to fly as Cal men’s swim hosts undefeated Trojans

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Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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On Friday, the Cal men’s swim and dive team will host the USC Trojans in a showdown that could perhaps prove as epic as the Battle of Troy.

On one hand, we have a ferocious Bears team that currently sits alone at the top of the NCAA’s swimming rankings. On the other, we have an undefeated Trojans squad looking to prove itself in its first competitive matchup of the season.

The Trojans will travel to Berkeley as the No. 10 swim team in the country, boasting a perfect 4-0 record. The Bears, though, have arguably faced a stronger schedule and have still managed to win every meet of the season, including a victory in a triple-distance meet against No. 7 Stanford.

USC’s last contest resulted in a decisive victory over Minnesota, while the Bears most recently defeated UC San Diego, now-No. 17 Arizona State and No. 15 Arizona in split-squad competitions. Though it would be subjective to compare the teams’ performances on a point-by-point basis, we can still compare the times posted by USC’s best swimmers to the Bears’ top times to get a sense of what to expect Friday.

Against Minnesota, the Trojans claimed first place in the 200-yard medley relay with a final time of 1:26.84. Though this was enough to edge out Minnesota’s best, it would have come up just short against the 1:25.69 posted by the Bears’ fastest quartet in Tempe.

Freshman Victor Johansson seems to be the USC’s best long-distance swimmer, as the Swedish sensation took first in the 1,000-yard freestyle, at 9:12.16. But Johansson’s time pales in comparison to the 8:59.06 recorded by Cal sophomore Trenton Julian.

As far as the breaststroke is concerned, USC senior Carsten Vissering may actually give Cal freshman Reece Whitley a run for his money this weekend. Although Whitley has been entirely dominant in the 100-yard breaststroke this season, Vissering’s 52.29 against Minnesota proved faster than Whitley’s 53.11 against ASU. With this considered, Whitley versus Vissering may be the key matchup for fans to look out for Friday, as the Bears’ young star will finally be presented with the challenge he has hoped for since entering the realm of collegiate swimming.

After comparing the notable times recorded by each team, it certainly seems that the Bears will have their work cut out for them, as USC is shaping up to be their toughest competition yet.

As the home team, Cal should hope for a good turnout from its fan base to give the group any extra encouragement it may need in this Friday’s battle. And if all goes accordingly, the Bears should be able to fend off the Trojans’ sword and send them marching back to Troy with their first loss of the season.

Joey Patton covers men’s swimming and diving. Contact him at [email protected].