After a month away from competition, Cal men’s swim divided into two separate groups to compete in split-squad competitions across the southwestern United States. On Friday, one Cal squad trekked to Arizona State in an attempt to splash out the Sun Devils’ flames, while the other group braved King Triton’s wintry waters down at UC San Diego. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils and Tritons, neither had a trident strong enough to fend off the ferocious Bears.
At ASU, Cal set the tone right out of the gate, claiming the top two spots in the 200-yard medley relay. A quartet consisting of Bryce Mefford, Carson Sand, Pawel Sendyk and Ryan Hoffer claimed first place with a time of 1:25.69, and a group composed of Daniel Carr, Reece Whitley, Zheng Wen Quah and Michael Jensen touched the wall less than a second later at 1:26.32.
In the very next race, sophomore Trenton Julian and senior Nick Norman finished one-two in the 1,000-yard freestyle, with Julian’s 8:59.06 just giving him the edge against Norman’s 8:59.39. That first-place finish was perhaps Julian’s greatest feat since his hat-trick performance against Pacific at the beginning of the season, and it’s especially impressive considering Norman is arguably the best long-distance swimmer on the Bears’ roster.
After tacking on additional individual wins from Andrew Seliskar, Whitley and Quah, the Bears left Tempe with a 178-118 victory over the Sun Devils and made their way down south to take on the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson. Despite having to make their second road trip in just two days, the Bears showed no signs of sluggishness or fatigue, as Cal closed out the weekend with yet another victory.
The Bears’ 164-127 victory against the Wildcats was largely fueled by Carr and usual suspect Seliskar. Carr swept the day’s backstroke events with a 47.67 in the 100-yard event and a 1:45.07 in the 200, while Seliskar came out on top in the 200-yard butterfly and the 500-yard freestyle with times of 1:43.78 and 4:23.86, respectively.
While their teammates were putting on a clinic all throughout the desert, the Bears’ squad down in San Diego fought for Cal in a triumphant effort against the Tritons.
A stellar performance from Chris Jhong was instrumental to Cal’s success, as the freshman won the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 9:15.26 and the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 3:51.12.
Jhong, who grew up in the Bay area and attended Amador Valley High School, sometimes gets buried under names such as Whitley, however, the freshman has proved to be an extremely valuable young piece for the Bears.
Finishing just behind Jhong in the medley was senior Ken Takahashi, who captured a victory of his own in the 500-yard freestyle with a 4:27.39.
At the end of two days, Cal won every individual event of the weekend against UCSD and racked up a final score of 194-99.
After scorching both Arizona teams and blowing the Tritons out of the water, Cal is now scheduled to rest up for two weeks before hosting Pac-12 rival USC on Feb.
Joey Patton covers men’s swimming and diving. Contact him at [email protected].