Cal hopes to bring a storm to ASU

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Lorenzo Dela Cruz/Staff

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The Bears are back. After an eventful and gratifying break from the regular season, Cal men’s swim and dive is determined to finish off the last half of the season with some resounding wins, starting with one this week.

The team will host Grand Canyon State’s best this weekend at Spieker Aquatics Complex in a Pac-12 matchup. This marks the first time this season the Bears have faced Arizona State. The Sun Devils look to draw blood this weekend: A mere handful of ranks lower than Cal, the No. 6-ranked team is looking to make its first bear encounter one worth remembering.

But they have their work cut out for them, though, as the Bears claimed the No. 2 spot in January and are looking for more. This past December, Cal sophomore Destin Lasco was named the Pac-12 Men’s Swimmer of the Month, reflecting his stellar performance during November’s Minnesota Invite: two first-place finishes in the 200 backstroke and the 200 individual medley.

Three Bears also flexed their skills on the international stage just before the new year — Hugo González, Trenton Julian and Ziyad Saleem represented their respective countries at the six-day 2021 FINA Short-Course World Championships in Abu Dhabi.

Julian earned three medals for a Tom Shields-led team USA. His 1:41.35 freestyle split in the 4×200 freestyle relay gave way to gold, while his 49.36 butterfly split in the 4×100 medley relay contributed toward a solid second-place finish. Julian’s second gold medal came from his preliminary performance in the 4×50 medley relay. Given his impressive performance during a high-pressure situation, Julian reinforces his reputation as a threat to all competing teams.

This Friday and Saturday, the Bears aim to continue their dual meet winning streak of 16 that goes back to Oct. 3, 2018. If it hopes to dethrone No. 1 Texas and close out this season with a national championship, Cal must maintain its aggressiveness.

Though the stakes are high, this weekend also marks a bittersweet occasion for nine Bears who will be competing at Spieker Aquatics Complex for the last time. For both the hopes of a championship and for the graduating seniors, this weekend is a must-win.

Cynthia Ge covers men’s swim and dive. Contact her at [email protected].