Wave II of the U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials kicked off in Omaha on Sunday with more than two dozen current, former and incoming Cal swimmers competing for a chance to swim in Tokyo later this summer. Typically, the top two finishers in each Wave II race will head to the Olympics, and the next four to six in the 100 and 200 freestyle will typically go as part of relay teams. The first half of this year’s Olympic trials saw three Cal alumni earn their spots in Tokyo, with several other Cal swimmers competing in finals.
Cal alumnus Ryan Murphy punched a ticket to his second Olympic Games on Tuesday night when he won the 100 backstroke with a time of 52.33 seconds. He had the quickest start off the blocks in the final, then slipped back at the turn but ultimately pulled ahead again to win the race. The former Bear will be looking to qualify in the 200 backstroke and 100 butterfly also as the trials progress.
Murphy, who graduated from Cal in 2017, is the defending Olympic champion and world record holder in the 100 backstroke. He also bagged two other gold medals at the 2016 Olympic Games, winning the 200 backstroke and 4×100 medley relay. In his time with the Bears, Murphy won NCAA titles in the 100 and 200 backstroke in all four years of his collegiate career and was named Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year three years in a row.
Another Cal alumnus, Andrew Seliskar, earned a spot in his first Olympic Games with a fourth-place finish in the 200 freestyle in a time of 1:46.34. Seliskar’s placement earned him a spot on the 4×200 freestyle relay team. After placing seventh in the semifinals, Seliskar was able to pull forward enough going into the last 50 of the finals to earn a spot in the top four.
In 2019, he finished off his senior year at Cal by winning an NCAA title in all three of the events he competed in, and in doing so, earned Swimmer of the Meet honors. He also won his 11th conference title at the 2019 Pac-12 championships, setting a conference record for most individual conference titles by a male swimmer.
Katie McLaughlin, who graduated from Cal in 2019, is heading to her first Olympic Games as well after placing fourth in the 200 freestyle and fifth in the 100 fly. She was on the winning 4×200 freestyle relay at the 2015 World Championships, swam in two finals at the 2016 Olympic trials and helped set an American record in the 4×200 freestyle relay at the 2019 World Championships.
Several other Cal swimmers competed in finals during the first half of the meet. Freshman Isabelle Stadden finished fifth in the 100 backstroke with a time of 59.37, senior Trenton Julian finished fifth in the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:56.35 and senior Bryce Mefford finished fourth in the 100 backstroke with a time of 52.91.
In addition to the Cal swimmers heading to Tokyo this summer, Cal head coach David Durden is set to lead the men’s U.S. Olympic Team later this summer.
More Cal swimmers are expected to swim in the second half of the Olympic trials, which run through Sunday, and they’ll be hoping to secure one of the coveted spots at the Olympics later this summer.