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Golden Medals: Cal Men's Water Polo in NCAA this weekend, atypical Swimming schedule for Olympics training

It's a special Cal Aquatic edition of the Golden Medals this week.

Cal Women's Swimming is prepping for the Olympics this week at the AT&T Winter Nationals.
Cal Women's Swimming is prepping for the Olympics this week at the AT&T Winter Nationals.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cal Men's Water Polo - two wins away from another NCAA title

Bears have the talent to win the NCAA Championship this year, but can the recent good play be sustained and improved upon this weekend to dethrone UCLA, and ruin their perfect record, at their home pool (the other Spiekers aquatic center)?

Our sturdy Golden Bears will play against USC on Saturday for a chance to play UCLA on Sunday (UCLA basically has a walkover on Saturday against UC San Diego, who defeated Princeton 12-7). USC took care of business on Thursday night by winning the play-in game over an overmatched Claremont-Mudd-Scripps by a 20-5 margin. Both of the Saturday semifinal and a potential Cal final will be streamed on the website with the scheduled time of 6:12 pm PT. We will have open threads for them (I will try my best to live-comment and tweet the action again) here on CGB.

Bears have defeated USC 12-10 at the MPSF regular season match, as a part of their late season surge. USC did have the upperhand at the NorCal tournament earlier on the year, winning 12-9.

Given the (one season) early emergence of the Golden Bears back to being a national water polo powerhouse, several Cal student-athletes were recognized by the conference awards. Johnny Hooper is named MPSF Newcomer of the Year. Sophomore Luca Cupido is named to the MPSF First Team. He is joined by second team selections in senior Colin Mulcahy and freshman Odysseas Masmanidis. Goalkeeper (also a newcomer via transfer from a community college) Lazar Andric earned a honorable mention.

Cal have won 13 national championships in Men's Water Polo (most of any schools) with the last one coming in 2007. We are due for another title.

Cal Women's Swimming at AT&T Nationals

With an eye to get her swimmers in the best shape to make the 2016 Rios Olympics, Teri McKeever and the Golden Bears are swimming at the AT&T Nationals this year at Federal Way, Washington. While collegiate swimming are short course (25 meters) events, the AT&T Nationals is a long course (50 meters) event.

From the official website (also a link to live video feeds):

***Please note that Winter Nationals will serve as a FINA-approved competition where swimmers can achieve qualifying times for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Certainly, Teri McKeever is scheduling the 2015-16 season with the 2016 Rio games in mind for her squad that is expected to produce half a dozen to a dozen Calympians. To be completely honest, I am a bit confused by this achieving qualifying time thing; I thought the US Olympic trial is the most important event for our potential Calympians. Nevertheless, Teri is giving her swimmers more experience with the long course in prep of the US Olympic trials (June 26-July 3, 2016 from Omaha) ahead of the Rio games in August.

Rachel Bootsma was a Calympian in 2012 London. Elizabeth Pelton and Celina Li are capable of making the team out of the veterans. Freshman trio of Kathleen Baker, Amy Bilquist, and Katie McLaughlin are also in the mix to potentially make the Olympics game. Farida Osman should easily be a shoo-in to represent Egypt again. Marina Garcia should also make a return to the Olympics to represent Spain.

Amongst the former and future Bears who are not training with Cal aquatics - Cierra Runge who is taken the year off to focus on Rio, Abbey Weitzeil who is delaying enrollment, and Missy Franklin who has turned pro and is back to training in Colorado are swimming this event as well. Caitlin Leverenz and Natalie Coughlin, who is now training with the Cal men, are also racing this weekend.

The downside of competing in a long course event is that it takes away one less opportunity for the Bears to qualify for the Pac-12 Championships and the NCAA in the short course. However, it is important to note that the priorities of the Cal swimmers are already different in an Olympic years. Instead of peaking at the NCAA, I would think most swimmers are trying to peak at the Olympic Trials and the Rio Olympics in the summer.

Bears also swam at the Arena Pro Swim Series event at Minneapolis earlier this fall - another long course event.

It certainly makes the NCAA championship to be less predictable than usual.

Cal Men's Swimming at University of Georgia Invitational

The Cal Men's Swimming are competing in a more traditional college swimming schedule. They will look to retain their 2014 crown at the University of Georgia Invitational this weekend.

Bears have had a strong fall, as expected. Ryan Murphy keeps on dominating the backstrokes. Seniors Jacob Pebley and Josh Prenot are doing their thing in multiple events. Bears are doing the normal of thing of already qualifying for the NCAA with some B times, these times are expected to drop as the season progresses.

It would be interesting to see how Ryan Murphy and other Cal swimmers with Olympics aspirations, like freshman Andrew Seliskar, do differently in their training this year. Unlike the women, the men's prep for the Olympics appear to be more on an individual basis.

Random Cal Baseball Note:

Junior ace Daulton Jefferies, who has been the Bears' Friday starter since his freshman year, is already garnering some national attention, although I have to say that I think there are better outlet than MLB Pipeline in predicting baseball prospects. Must be that Cowboy getup from the Regional last year.

Tying this back to swimming, I guess Daulton Jefferies has met Missy Franklin.