World class. Most of us here at Cal have heard that phrase used countless times. We pride ourselves in being part of a world-class university. But for head coach David Durden and the Cal men’s swimming team, world-class has a different meaning.
“We just want to focus on getting better,” Durden said.
Coming off their first NCAA championship win since 2014, there’s a lot of pressure on the Bears coming into the 2019-20 season. But they seem to be taking it in stride.
Cal met the University of the Pacific last Thursday at the Chris Kjeldsen Pool in Stockton. Not only did Cal dominate in a landslide 187-74 victory, they also took home wins in all 14 events.
There were several noteworthy wins throughout the competition, including those by senior Zheng Wen Quah who, after being crowned King of the Pool at last month’s season opener, continued to assert his dominance by winning two individual events in the 200-yard freestyle and 200-yard individual medley. With the impressive times of 1:34.91 and 1:46.61 respectively, Quah is surely one to watch this season according to Durden.
Another swimmer Durden says we should look out for is junior Ryan Hoffer, who also showed out last week by winning both the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly, at 19.88 and 47.96 respectively. This team boasts an impressive roster of individual talent, but a team needs more than that to succeed.
“We’ve only been together as a team for around six months right now, so we’re working on improving together as a team,” Durden said.
Last Thursday certainly seemed to indicate the Bears’ capability to work together to great success.
While all freshmen will have a learning curve to upend, the Bears are helped out by their more experienced teammates. Older team members help mentor their younger counterparts, sharing their experiences from being a part of the Cal team, and helping to expedite the learning process.
This support system seems to be paying off for the Bears. Freshman Marcos Rico Peng bookended the afternoon with victories in the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard free relay, joining junior Daniel Carr, senior Pawel Sendyk and sophomore Kyle Millis in edging out three other Cal groups for a 1:29.62 finish.
He would also join senior Ethan Young, junior Jarod Hatch and freshman Calvin David to close out the day with a close 3:06.15 win. David also scored his first win as a Bear in the 500-yard freestyle, besting the rest of his pool by a considerable 18 seconds.
Next up, Cal will host rival Stanford for their annual Triple Distance Meet at Spieker Aquatics Complex on Nov. 8. There is still work to be done before March rolls around, but after putting up a stellar performance against the Cardinal last year, both at the Triple Distance Meet and the last dual meet of the 2018-19 season, the Bears will surely be looking to claim another victory.
Amber Fang covers men’s swim & dive. Contact her at