NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships: Two relay wins highlight Cal's Day 1

The Golden Bears are not content with just winning the Pac-12. This quartet will try to win the NCAA in 200 Free relay tonight. - Cal Men's Swimming and Diving Facebook

The Golden Bears are in a good position heading into night 1 with most number of swimmers in position to score points. On top of that, the Bears win both of the relays (200 Free and 400 medley)to be just one point off host Texas' lead.

In probably the most optimal case possible, the Bears finish Day 1 with two national championships won in the relays (200 Free and 400 Medley). Those wins and all the Cal points earned in the various individual races mean that the Bears are in a very good position at the end of Day 1.

  • Your 2014 NCAA 200 Free relay champions: Tyler Messerschmidt, Ryan Murphy, Tony Cox, and Seth Stubblefield
  • Your 2014 NCAA 400 Medley relay champions: Ryan Murphy, Chuck Katis, Marcin Tarczynski, and Seth Stubblefield

Texas got the lead thanks to their diving prowess but the Bears are right there. Florida is also doing as well as expected with Michigan (last year's champs) falling short of expectation.

Hear what Coach Durden and some members of the team have to say about Day 1:


ROLL ON YOU BEARS!

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Viewing Information:

Live Swimming Results: here

Tonight's video link: here

All the prelim sessions and tonight's final are streamed live from TexasSports.com.

ESPN3 will have live coverage for Friday and Saturday night's finals. ESPNU will show the tape delayed coverage (action cut down to 90 minutes) at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 9.

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From my preview this morning (which includes an explanation of the scoring), the 2014 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships is expected to be a 4 team race. Defending National Champions Michigan (where Michael Phelps trained but did not compete for back in the days) and Florida may have the best swimmers to vie for the individual championships, Cal and host Texas have the most swimmers competing with 16 each. Texas doesn't quite have the quality of swimmers as the Golden Bears, but they are likely to get an additional 150 points from the diving events over the other three teams.

Things are very promising for the Golden Bears in the first afternoon as Cal have the most swimmers in scoring position (the A and B finals). The Bears have a great reputation to really peak at the NCAA's (recipe to the Bears winning their 4 titles including a doublet in 2011 and 2012), and they did not disappoint.

Here is what CollegeSwimming thinks about the Bears' performance this morning:

After last week, I must admit I was little concerned that some of the reasons for the Cal women's lackluster performance might show up on the men's side as well. That's precisely why they appear third in my top 10 predictions. The early returns are that I may have missed the mark. The Golden Bears notched the most scoring opportunities for Thursday night, splitting them evenly with five in the A and five in the B. The GB's ranked second in the 200 free relay and fifth in the 400 medley, setting themselves up for big scoring chances tonight.

On an individual basis, Cal freshman Ryan Murphy erupted from a No. 49 seed in the 200 IM (1:45.75) to a spot in the big boy final with a monster lifetime-best swim of 1:42.24. He'll be joined by teammate Josh Prenot who was only ranked 13th himself (is seeded fifth). Cal also got a big boost from Seth Stubblefield who improved his ranking from 12th to third in the 50.

Here is how the 4 schools stack up in quantity for the INDIVIDUAL SWIMMING events:

School A-Finalists/B-Finalists

Florida 4/1

Michigan 4/2

California 3/5

Texas 3/2

When you include the relays (everybody is in both A-Finals) and diving (only helping out Texas with 2 A-Finalists), again from CollegeSwimming:

Here are the up/downs for the top four teams who looked to be in for a long week of battle (diving included):
Texas 7/2
California 5/5
Michigan 6/2
Florida 6/1

An obscene number of relays were DQ'ed in the morning (including a few relay contenders). Should the DQ bug bites any of the team contenders...well that certainly didn't help the Cal women last week in the NCAA's.

Thursday Night Finals

200 freestyle relay

Teams will look to set the pace in this race. The Bears had a great showing in the morning shaving half a second from their qualifying time to be seeded 2nd in the A-Final. Host Texas surprised everyone by dropping 1.5 seconds for the top seed. Florida, led by their extraordinary senior in Bradley Deborde are the 4th seed. Michigan just managed to avoid the B-Final by grabbing the 8th spot.

The Bears are the Pac-12 champions in the 200 Free relay this year. The winning racers there were Tyler Messerchmidt, Ryan Murphy, Tony Cox, and Seth Stubblefield. The lineup used this morning was the same with the exception of Shayne Fleming in the place of Murphy.

500 freestyle

Michigan are to men's freestyle like what Georgia was to the women's last week. Wolverine's Connor Jaeger had the top prelim time. Joining him in the A-Final are 1 other Michigan swimmer and 2 Florida Gators. Texas grabbed the last A-Final berth.

The only Golden Bears in position to score in the 500 Free is senior Jeremy Bagshaw. He will try to win the consolation final against one Texas Longhorn and two more Michigan Wolverines.

200 IM

Cal freshman Ryan Murphy really opened some eyes with his 200 IM prelim performance that is 3.5 seconds better than his qualifying time. He is in the A-Final with fellow Bear in sophomore Josh Prenot. Florida's Marcin Cieslak (not sure if he is related to Moe from the Simpsons) had the top time. Also in the A-final are Michigan swimmers Whitaker and Bosch.

Calympian Marcin Tarczynski and junior Will Hamilton are joined in the B-final by 1 Longhorn and 1 Gator.

50 freestyle

Three swimmers were under the 19 seconds mark in the prelim: top seed Deborde from Florida, Arizona's Tandy, and Cal's junior Seth Stubblefield. Texas have two swimmers in the A-final as well.

Sophomore Tyler Messerschmidt and senior Tony Cox represents the Bears in the B-final where there are no other swimmers from the other three contenders.

1-meter diving

Texas, a perennial powerhouse in diving, have two in the A-final. This is time to grab dinner or do something else for all the swim fans.

400 medley relay

Bears have the 5th best time with a lineup that may have little resemblance to the one that they will use this evening. Breast-stroker Chuck Katis (a transfer from Harvard) had a great time this morning. He will be counted on for the relay final tonight.

Top contender and Pac-12 winner Arizona was among the 7 schools that were DQ'ed.

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Like I wrote this morning, the prelims are probably where the Golden Bears can win or lose the team title. Nevertheless, the Bears are strong contender in the relays that are all basically crapshoot. I wrote at length last week about the number of Cal individual and relay NCAA national champions in school history. Let's see if any more Golden Bears join that list tonight.

GO BEARS!

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