Split-team swim meet: Can Cal men hold up?

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In Avengers: Endgame, the Avengers split up to time travel to different points in the past to gather the six infinity stones. After a few bumps in the road, they successfully return with the stones intact and the Avengers safe and sound.

Well, almost.

In case you haven’t seen it yet (although who hasn’t), here’s a spoiler alert: Black Widow dies.

Needless to say, a team apart is never as good as a team together.

“It’s always fun to have the whole group of guys there, racing,” said Cal men’s swim and dive head coach David Durden.

This weekend, the Cal men’s swim and dive team will be heading down to Southern California for a series of three meets in three different locations, but they won’t be together.

On Friday, the team will be split in two when it heads to USC for a Pac-12 dual meet, with seniors Karl Arvidsson, Michael Jensen and Pawel Sendyk; juniors Ryan Hoffer, Sean Grieshop, Trenton Julian, Bryce Mefford and Daniel Carr; sophomores Reece Whitley and Hugo Gonzalez; and freshman Jacques Laeuffer.

Senior diver Connor Callahan will also be facing the Trojans.

The rest of the team will head to UC San Diego for a dual meet invitational. On Saturday, the Bears will get to regroup to face UC San Diego in a nonscoring, long-course meet held at Southwestern College. This means that they will swim 50-meter laps — the Olympic pool length — as opposed to the collegiate 25 yards.

Cal is coming off of an impressive set of performances against Arizona and Arizona State, where it easily swam to victory, setting four pool records in the process. USC, on the other hand, sizably lost to Arizona and Arizona State when they clashed in November.

And as a team ranked second nationally set to face a team that isn’t even in the top 25, it definitely seems as though the Bears have the upper hand.

UC San Diego isn’t even a Division I team, so it seems logical to assume that the Bears would have no qualms in snagging the W here. The only nugget of uncertainty comes from the team’s separation.

But as strong as the Cal roster has been thus far, will the Bears be able to perform at the same level with key members missing at each meet?

According to Durden, the Bears have settled into a training rhythm, and his focus lies mainly in how they manage their time outside of the pool. Last meet, they had just come off of a two-week training camp in Colorado Springs, where they focused mainly on long-course training. In the time since then, the team has placed greater emphasis on getting race-ready in its journey to prepare for the NCAA championship.

“We were 15 days long-course out in Colorado Springs, and then we got back, and so some of our speed’s not necessarily there, as it should be in, you know, sort of the short-course training, racing perspective. But I think that that’s really the one thing that we need to have a focus on over these next, you know, four, six, eight weeks heading into March,” Durden said.

Self-improvement is a prominent theme across the board for the team.

“So I think just getting in tune to the little things, for not just myself but all of us, is what’s going to probably make us very swell in SoCal in a couple weeks,” Whitley said.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Bears fare down in SoCal. Will the outcome be as sunny as the southern weather, or will they falter as a team divided?

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