Only three things in life are certain: death, taxes and Cal men’s swim and dive victories.
This past week, Cal added three more victorious performances to the record books, winning its 20th-straight dual meet under head coach David Durden and defeating a slew of hopeful Southern California teams. On Friday, Feb. 4, the Bears divided and conquered, sending half of the team to duel with the Trojans while the other half sparred with the Tritons in unfamiliar waters. The following Saturday, Cal reinforced its troops and showed up to Canyonview Aquatic Center, hoping to best the Triton Invitational.
In all three instances, the Bears left no doubt of their excellence. Despite diminished capacity, each half of the team carried its weight, crushing USC and UCSD 198.5-94.5 and 145-111, respectively. These competitions marked the fifth and sixth dual meet won by the Bears this season.
Perhaps more surprising than Cal’s compelling victories this weekend was the fight the unranked Tritons put up against the second-ranked team in the nation. While Cal swept 14 of 14 events at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center in Los Angeles, the Tritons managed to scrape away four event titles from the Bears’ greedy paws, one of which was the 100-yard freestyle relay.
UCSD senior Spencer Daily won two individual events, beating sophomore Matthew Jensen by less than a second in the 50-yard free and posting a 48.47 in the 100-yard fly. The times recorded by both Cal swimmers in the 100-yard fly were not considered. Of the events the Tritons won, only Aidan Simpson’s 2:01.71 in the 200-yard breast was a solid distance from second place; the margin of victory for the Tritons in other events was less than a second.
Even eighth-ranked USC struggled tremendously against the Bears’ anchored front. Cal veterans swarmed USC, including Daniel Carr, Reece Whitley, Trenton Julian and Björn Seeliger.
The day started explosively: Carr, Whitley, Julian and Seeliger posted a 1:25.34 in the 200-yard medley relay, beating out USC’s team –– including star athlete and 2016 Olympian Alexei Sancov. The Bears then took first and second in the 1,000-yard free and all three podium spots in the 200-yard free.
And the victories just did not stop. The team completely swept the Trojans in all 14 events, with five athletes securing a pair of individual event wins.
Following Friday’s momentum, Cal blew UCSD and the Coronado Swim Association out of the water, securing 11 wins and taking first, second and third in more than half of the 12 events at the Triton Invitational. Many Bears also posted their season best times: Carr in the 100-yard back; Kyle Millis in the 50-yard back; Jason Louser and Jacob Soderlund in the 100 breast; Preston Niayesh in the 200-yard breast; Seeliger and Hugo González in the 50-yard fly; the list goes on. For many of the newer athletes, the Triton Invitational posed an excellent opportunity to set their first records.
But while some swimmers are just starting to compete and find their groove, others are counting down the competitions until they finish their career in the Cal men’s swim and dive program. The Bears only have one more regular season meet at Stanford before the postseason begins. They will then travel to Washington for the Pac-12 championships, and fans hope to see them at Atlanta, Georgia for the NCAA championships.
Cynthia Ge covers men’s swim and dive. Contact her at [email protected].