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Cal men's swim gears up for Pac-12 Championships

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Sports Editor

MARCH 03, 2014

After ruining Stanford’s perfect dual meet season late last month, Cal will look to triumph over their Bay Area rivals again in the 2014 Pac-12 Men’s Swimming Championships.

The Pac-12 Championships in Federal Way, Wash., will showcase some of the strongest competition the meet has seen in years, featuring Olympians and some of the best collegiate swimmers in the country. The Pac-12 conference is widely viewed as a swimming powerhouse, with four of the conference’s teams ranked in the top 15 of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll.

The No. 3 Bears will head to King County Aquatic Center with most of last year’s championship team intact, sans Tom Shields, last season’s Pac-12 Swimmer of the Meet. Cal features some of the most prolific swimmers in the country, including junior Seth Stubblefield and senior Marcin Tarczynski, who both recorded top-three times in their respective events in last season’s championships.

Senior Jeremy Bagshaw placed third in the 500 free last year, behind USC junior Cristian Quintero and fellow Bear Adam Hinshaw. Sophomore Josh Prenot will look to continue his Pac-12 success after setting the Pac-12 meet record in the 400 IM last season.

“I’m looking forward to just having some good races,” Bagshaw said. “It’s the first time where I can kind of let go and have a good time as a senior.”

Cal ousted Stanford in last year’s conference championships with a score of 825-800, ending the Cardinal’s 31-year streak of consecutive titles — the longest run in collegiate sports history. The Bears built their lead over the last few days of the meet to hoist their first Pac-12 trophy since 1981.

Stanford fell short of an undefeated 2013-14 campaign, losing a 169-74 blowout to their rivals. The Bears, on the other hand, recorded a perfect 8-0 dual meet season, extending their dual-meet winning streak to 15. Cal enters the Pac-12 title meet having notched victories over conference rivals No. 4 USC and No. 12 Arizona, the latter ending in a surprising 206-92 rout of the Wildcats. The Trojans’ only losses this season came from Cal and Stanford.

USC, owners of a 4-2 dual-meet record this season, is led by standout Quintero, one of the best freestylers in the nation. Quintero is the defending Pac-12 champion in both the 200 and 500 free and helped the Trojans to a NCAA victory in the 400 free relay.

Despite his team’s blowout loss to Cal on Jan. 25, Arizona junior Kevin Cordes won both the 100 and 200 breast. Cordes, an eight-time All-American, is the reigning NCAA champion and holds the nation’s best times in both events. Arizona holds the top time in the country in the 400 medley relay. The Bears also won 178-113 over the Arizona State Sun Devils earlier this season, who were defeated in each of their conference matchups this year. The Sun Devils, however, are led by senior fly specialist Alex Coci, a 2012 Olympian and school record-holder in the 100 and 200 fly.

The Pac-12 Championships, sometimes considered to be a stepping stone to the NCAAs, will be the conference members’ final opportunity to hone their skills one last time. At the NCAAs, the Bears will look to win their third national title in four years.

Michelle Lee covers men’s swim. Contact her at [email protected].

MARCH 03, 2014

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