College swimming saw a new look from Cal men’s swim Friday when a select group of 11 athletes represented the Bears at the Pacific Invitational. The team competed against the likes of Fresno Pacific, BYU and Pacific, in what was the Bears’ first road meet of the season.
Each of the 11 swimmers in this group was chosen specifically because they haven’t had the opportunity to swim in as many events as their teammates at Cal’s first two meets of the season. While the Bears only participated in the first day of the meet in Stockton, they still made their mark on the meet, taking home two individual titles. As the season progresses, it’s important for every member of Cal’s deep roster to get adequate race experience in different types of events so they can remain in form.
“We have some guys that are pretty versatile, so just to kind of move them into some different events — that would be helpful for them to see something different through the course of the weekend,” said Cal head coach David Durden.
The team’s well-rounded performance was highlighted with victories from sophomores Kyle Coan and Connor Hoppe. In the 200-yard freestyle, Coan’s time of 1:40.52 was good enough to take home first-place honors. Finishing in second place was teammate Dillon Williams, a junior who finished less than a second after Coan with a time of 1:41.42. Hoppe earned his individual title in the 100-yard breaststroke, an event in which seven of Cal’s 11 participated.
“I think the team did well,” said senior Scott Haeberle. “We went into it with a pretty good attitude: we all wanted to swim well. I think we all just had a solid meet all-around.”
Even those who didn’t post event-winning times saw the meet as a positive experience. It allowed them to get into the flow of competition and develop the type of rhythm that needs to be established by the time higher-stakes meets like the Pac-12 championships come around.
The Bears also had their first opportunity of the season to face off against multiple teams in a single meet. For the group of 11 who represented Cal, the intensity of the events was boosted by the sheer number of athletes competing at the invitational. Having a smaller group present at this meet meant that the Bears mostly kept to themselves and sought motivation outside of the cheering from their teammates that they’re accustomed to. The past week of practice helped the swimmers adjust to this as they prepared on their own, separate from the rest of the team.
“We go in and warm up on our own, prepare for the meet by ourselves without having the whole group there present,” Haeberle said. “So, we just go in and kind of do our own thing, swim, warm down by ourselves and that’s the meet.”
Kapil Kashyap covers men’s swim. Contact him at [email protected]