Bears start strong as star senior wins King of the Pool

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Although the entire Cal men’s swim team earned success in last Friday’s King of the Pool event, it was senior Andrew Seliskar who took home the crown. After closing out last season with an impressive performance in the NCAA Championships, Seliskar picked up right where he left off, posting a first-place time of 4:05.70.

The King of the Pool, hosted by Cal Poly, is a unique event requiring competitors to swim the 100-yard butterfly stroke, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle and medley for one combined time. After winning last year’s matchup, the Bears came into Friday’s contest determined to continue their dominance over the Mustangs, and this drive was evident in every swimmer’s performance.

Also contributing to the Bears’ success, junior Zheng Wen Quah finished in second place with a total time of 4:08.76, and finished ahead of the pack in the first two races.

Freshman Reece Whitley put together an impressive collegiate debut with a strong performance in the 100-yard breaststroke, recording a time of 54.33. Such a successful first tournament shows why the 18-year-old was the nation’s No. 1 recruit in his class.

Just behind Whitley in the breaststroke was senior Carson Sand with a time of 54.70. After posting an impressive performance in last season’s Championships, it seems the breaststroke specialist is looking to continue his success in his senior year.

While the results from King of the Pool certainly hint at a promising year for the Bears, it reflects only a glimpse of what the team has in store. The event is essentially viewed as an opportunity for the team to gain experience in a racing environment while newer members acclimate to the collegiate level of competition. Since the event only features five 100-yard disciplines, many swimmers were not given an opportunity to showcase their talents.

Though he did not produce any eye-popping numbers in last week’s contest, it would be unwise to sleep on senior Nick Norman this season. Last year, Norman recorded the team’s best times in the 1000-yard and 1650-yard freestyle, beating the NCAA A standard for the latter. As the Bears go on to compete in meets that feature his events, Norman will become an increasingly large factor in the team’s success.

With a season-opening victory under their belt, the Bears can continue to move forward in their pursuit of a national title in 2018.

The journey will continue next Wednesday when King Andrew and the Bears fight to tame the Pacific Tigers in front of their own home crowd in Berkeley.

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