Swoop, there it is! On Wednesday, the Utah men’s swim team and its mascot Swoop will fly into the Bears’ lair and attempt to snatch a “W” from the jaws of the most ferocious swim team in the NCAA. Swoop and company shouldn’t get their hopes up, though, as the Bears are going to come out in their first Pac-12 matchup with the same drive that has propelled them to their 2-0 start.
Thus far in the season, the Bears have been firing on all cylinders, with each and every swimmer pulling his weight.
In last week’s matchup against Pacific, sophomore Trenton Julian completed a hat trick with first-place finishes in the 200-yard freestyle, the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard individual medley. In the same matchup, diver Connor Callahan recorded a new program record for the highest cumulative score in the 1-meter dive.
The week prior, senior Andrew Seliskar put on a clinic in Cal’s annual matchup against Cal Poly. Seliskar competed in five events for a combined time of 4:05.70, more than enough to declare him the victor of the competition.
Though only a few names have made headlines this season, every swimmer and diver has played a key role in contributing to the team’s success. As the team begins head-to-head meets with conference opponents, fans can only expect to see the Bears’ tenacity increase to even greater volumes.
“I want to see us develop the philosophy and the energy towards racing hard regardless of the event, whether it’s a relay or a longer swim for them,” said head swimming coach David Durden.
As conference races begin, the Bears will start competing in a wider array of disciplines, particularly in long-distance events. This should be music to the ears of senior Nick Norman and freshman Chris Jhong.
Norman took the top time in last week’s 500-yard and 1,000-yard freestyles, with Jhong not far behind him. Though the freshman is yet to finish first in an event this season, Durden is confident that Jhong will play a key role in the team’s success moving forward.
“Chris Jhong swam a good 1,000, swam a good 500,” said Durden. “We wanted to see a little more freestyle out of him because we’re going to transition into a little more medley base work, so it’s good to see him do that.”
It is tough to tell what to expect from Utah this Wednesday, as the Utes have only competed in one race this season. In that competition, though, they claimed a victory over in-state rival BYU.
As far as the Bears are concerned, however, it doesn’t matter if the Utes are 1-0 or 10-0; the team is prepared to come out and show that the Pac-12 is theirs for the taking.
Though Utah is hoping to swoop in and steal a win from Cal, it’ll be an uphill battle without a doubt. As the saying goes, you never poke the Bears.
Joey Patton covers men’s swimming and diving. Contact him at [email protected].