Cal men’s swim finishes runner-up at Minnesota Invitational

Maya Valluru/Staff

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It’s often said that there is no such thing as second place. For most people, you either win or you don’t. But Cal men’s swim head coach David Durden isn’t too worried about that.

“For us, it’s more about the process than it is about performance,” Durden said.

Last week, the Cal men’s swim team closed out 2019 with its first three and a half day meet of the season, traveling all the way to the University of Minnesota to compete against Arizona, Michigan, Iowa, Texas and Harvard. While they’ve swept at every meet thus far, the Bears ended up coming in second after Texas, trailing 759.5 points to 1182.0 points.

The Bears’ most notable individual win of the meet came from junior Ryan Hoffer, who snatched the victory in the 50-yard freestyle and became the first swimmer of the season to break the 19-second mark in this event.

Several others on the Cal roster managed to break national records, including junior Trenton Julian, who swam the nation’s fastest time of the season in the 400-yard individual medley, touching the wall at 3:40.05 — a mere 0.04 seconds ahead of Texas rival Braden Vines.

But while Durden was pleased with the team’s overall performance, he said this meet was tough because the Bears were missing a few members of their team. Senior Zheng Wen Quah, who has had a stellar season so far, missed the Minnesota Invitational, instead spending the weekend in the Philippines to compete in the SEA Games along with junior Jarod Hatch.

According to Durden, the SEA Games are an opportunity for Quah and Hatch to qualify for a spot on the Olympic team of their country, Singapore. Quah had a big weekend, hitting low enough times in the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke to tentatively qualify for the Olympics.

“He’s in a place now where he’s moving forward towards the Tokyo Olympics,” Durden said.

Redshirt sophomore Hugo Gonzalez is trying to do the same thing in Amsterdam this weekend, and is also focused on his qualifying times.

“He was back here on campus preparing for that,” Durden said.

As the team rolls forward into January, there is going to be a greater focus on preparing for the NCAA Championships in March. According to Julian, the team used the meet as an opportunity to get ready for the championships.

“Doing that (schedule) again felt really good in helping me prepare for (NCAAs) again. And it definitely got tiring at the end, but I felt like it was good practice coming up for March,” Julian said.

On the boards, diving coach Derek Starks decided not to send any of his athletes to the Minnesota Invitational. According to Cal sports information director Gerrit Van Genderen, two of the three members of the dive team — including senior Connor Callahan and junior Johnny Robinson — are injured, so Starks decided to refrain from this meet to let them rehabilitate.

Cal diving’s next appearance will be Jan. 17-19 at UCLA, and it remains to be seen whether Callahan and Robinson will be cleared to compete then. For Durden’s swimmers, the Cal Invitational will be held Jan. 18-19 at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

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