Cal men’s swim dominates against Stanford, dive opens season with freshman collegiate debut

Maya Valluru/Staff

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Life can be full of uncomfortable moments.

Like waking up to find yourself in the middle of the library, or having someone throw up in your trashcan or throwing up in someone else’s trashcan.

Or, if you’re the Cal men’s swim team, racing for the first time after almost a whole month of just training.

“We’ve gone a long time in a training dynamic, so getting up and racing probably felt a little uncomfortable for our guys, but that was good. It was good for them to experience that,” said head coach David Durden.

The Triple Distance Meet, the Bears’ annual race against Stanford, features a unique format of three distances per stroke. Freestyle, butterfly, breast and backstroke swimmers all compete in 50, 100 and 200-yard races. Individual Medley competes at 100, 200 and 400 yards and another distance freestyle pool competes at 200, 500 and 1000 yards.

For sprinters and more distance-oriented swimmers, this weekend was definitely not a comfortable one.

“I love this meet because it really extends some guys, so more of our sprint guys going up into a 200, for some of our guys that are a bit more distance oriented, it forces them to work a little more of their speed, and we get to see where they’re at,” Durden said.

Fans certainly saw plenty of that Friday. Junior Trenton Julian easily outswam his pool in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle. Stanford’s Grant Shoults, however, rallied halfway through the 1000-yard free to touch the wall at 9:05.69, over nine seconds ahead of Julian. This lead brought his total combined time up to 15:10.76, seven seconds ahead of Julian’s to win the overall event. It was the Bears’ only loss of the day.

Cal junior Ryan Hoffer and senior Michael Jensen battled it out for the shorter distance freestyle crown. Hoffer easily took the 50. Hoffer and Jensen tied the 100 with a time of 43.88, but Jensen’s strong performance in the 200, in which he led by more than two seconds at 1:37.77, ultimately gave him the victory.

Other events were more clear-cut for the Bears.

Senior Zheng Wen Quah continued his absolute dominance this season, sweeping the 50, the 100- and 200-yard butterfly for a total combined time of 2:50.26, more than eight seconds faster than Stanford’s William Macmillan.

Sophomore Reece Whitley and junior Bryce Mefford rolled to similar victories in their respective events. Whitley won all three breaststroke events for a total combined time of 3:11.01, more than seven seconds ahead of Stanford’s Hank Poppe, while Mefford cruised to a combined total time of 2:53.92 in the backstroke, two seconds ahead of teammate junior Daniel Carr.

This weekend also saw freshman Nick Hart make his collegiate debut on the boards. The only Cal diver to compete this past weekend at USC’s Trojan Diving Invitational, Hart started off the diving season with a bang.

In the 3-meter, he racked up 584 points, enough to earn him third. He also tallied 515.60 points in platform and 528.45 points in the 1-meter events, placing fifth and sixth in those respective events.

Moving forward, the men’s swim and dive team members will continue to test themselves as they head to the University of Minnesota for a three-and-a-half-day meet. For Durden’s swimmers, it will be their first prolonged meet of the season, and they’ve only just begun to make the transition from focusing on the technical to focusing on racing.

“We’ve still got a couple of weeks of work before we can get there, but I think our guys will welcome that type of work as we get closer to a three-and-a-half-day meet,” Durden said.

The meet won’t be held until December, so both teams will have plenty to focus on in practice before competing again.

Amber Fang covers men’s swim & dive. Contact her at [email protected].