Cal men’s swim and dive excels at 3 separate competitions

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While students were slowly making their way back to campus, the men’s swimming and diving team kept itself busy as members of the team were at three different competitions this past weekend.

The Bears’ contingent at the Arena Pro Swim Series at Austin included star junior Ryan Murphy, December’s Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month Josh Prenot, talented senior Jacob Pebley and versatile freshman Andrew Seliskar. It also featured several alumni such as Nathan Adrian, Charles Katis and Tom Shields. At the competition, swimmers competed in a 50-meter pool against some of the nation’s — and even some international — stars. Despite the strong opposition, Cal fought hard to exhibit its talent and dominance.

To get things started, Prenot took the lead in the final of four laps of breaststroke and never looked back into his 200-meter breaststroke win. Prenot followed the win with third-place finishes in the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medley events. Perhaps one of the more dominating swims of the competition was Murphy’s 200-meter backstroke, which he finished in 1:55.99. That time was 1.5 seconds faster than the second-place finisher and 2.5 seconds faster than Pebley, who finished in third. Murphy came in second in the 100-meter backstroke, while Pebley won the B-final of the same event.

The times that the Bears put up in Austin are significant for several reasons. For many of the competitors, this past weekend was the start to a season that may culminate with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro — the ultimate dream for athletes. January is usually a month for brutal training, but the intensity now allows swimmers to have their performances peak several months later.

Other stars, such as sophomore Justin Lynch, senior Tyler Messerschmidt and freshman Nick Norman, stayed in Berkeley to compete at the Cal Invitational on Saturday and Sunday. This meet differs from others because it welcomes anybody more than 12 years old to compete as long as the time standards are met. The Cal Invitational was an opportunity for the Bears to get some light racing before the competitive season kicks off again later this week.

Albert Gwo, a high school senior and Cal-commit, showed small glimpses of what he may offer the Bears in upcoming years. Gwo specializes in the sprint freestyle events, which is valuable because sprint freestylers contribute to both individual and relay events.

If you didn’t think the men’s swim and dive team was busy enough this weekend, it sent two divers, senior Peter Cyr and sophomore Finn Scribbick, to compete at the Bruin Diving Invitational. Cal, a team that finished second at last year’s NCAA Championships, finished without a scoring diver. By comparison, Texas had three that greatly contributed to the 129-point differential.

Cyr competed in 1-meter, 3-meter, and platform events and finished in seventh, sixth and sixth, respectively this past weekend. Scribbick only competed in the preliminary rounds of the men’s platform event, but scratched after just two dives. Scribbick is crucial to the program because he was the Bears’ lone representative at the NCAA Championships and will need to lessen the scoring gap of diving relative to other title-contending teams this year.

Nonetheless, Cal did it everything it needed to do this weekend in order to start the new year in the right direction.

Chris Zheng covers men’s swim. Contact him at [email protected].