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Cal in 2017 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Preview

Time for the Golden Bears to win their 6th team national championship in program history.

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Golden Bears will look to best Texas this week to win program’s 6th team national championship.

INDIANAPOLIS — Exactly a week after the Cal Women’s Swimming and Diving made a valiant run at the 2017 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships by winning 4 individual titles (3 by Kathleen Baker and 1 by Farida Osman) and 2 relays to claim 2nd place in the team championship, time is now for Cal Men’s Swimming and Diving to do even better. Based on the seed times and the expected taper, California Golden Bears, a fashionable sleeper pick, should be in for a tight race against perennial contender in Texas as well as NC State (they are also handicapped by the lack of diving). It might take all 21 events to determine this championship.

Between senior Calympian superstar Ryan Murphy (essentially a lock to win both 100 Back and 200 Back and a good bet to be an A-Finalist in 200 IM) and stud sophomore Andrew Seliskar (200 IM, 400 IM, 200 Fly) - the Golden Bears have two expected high scorer. Justin Lynch and Matthew Josa should also score in multiple events. Despite graduating a pair of Calympians in Josh Prenot and Jacob Pebley, the 2017 Golden Bears squad is still quite loaded. A total of 17* swimmers will compete for the Bears here for 28 individual events. Cal will also swim in all 5 relays. Golden Bears are coming off a successful Pac-12 championship where they won 7 events and 4 relays, but only lost the team title to Stanford thanks to Stanford’s overwhelming edge in diving.

*Singapore 2x Olympian Zheng Wen Quah earned NCAA eligibility and NCAA qualification at the last minute (Pac-12 Invitational on March 5th). Reading the comment of that SwimSwam article, there are some people (Texas fans?) that are clearly not happy about the inclusion of Zheng.

Will this year’s squad be fast and deep enough for the team championship? I will break down Cal vs. Texas below.

Don’t snooze on Cal freshman diver Connor Callahan who has earned a berth to all 3 diving events at the NCAA national championships. Any points that he could earn to offset the potential points earned by Texas divers may very well end up being the difference.

Cal Men’s Swimming has won 5 NCAA team titles: 1979, 1980, 2011, 2012, 2014 (freshman year for the current seniors).

Golden Bears have won 58 individual national championships including 3 last year (100 Back and 200 Back by Ryan Murphy and 400 IM by Josh Prenot).

Golden Bears have also won 27 relay national championships thus far - although none last year as the Texas Longhorns thoroughly dominated the meet.

Here are your links to view this meet online:

Since I am at the meet this year, I am not sure if the links are correct. Please let me know if they are not working and I will attempt to fix them.

Prelims starts at 7 AM PT, Finals starts at 3 PM PT

Wednesday Finals: IUPUI

Thursday Prelims/Finals: IUPUI

Friday Prelims: IUPUI

Friday Finals: ESPN3

Saturday Prelims: IUPUI

Saturday Finals: ESPN3

Live swimming results: Swimming Results

Live diving results: Diving Results

Schedule: Indiana Sports Corp

Quick recap of the scoring, the top 16 swimmers (or relay teams) will score points toward the team championships. Swimmers race in the prelim in the morning to qualify for the A- and B- Finals in the evening. The lone exception is the 1650 Free where the swimmers only race once with the top 8 seed racing in the evening session.

Points are awarded on a sliding scale:

For Relays (Double the point of individual events), they are

40 (extra points for the winner), 34, 32, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22 for the A-Final participants

18 (again bonus points for the winner), 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 for the B-Final participants

For Individual Events

20 (extra points for the winner), 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11 for the A-Final participants

9 (bonus point for the winner), 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 for the B-Final participants

It should go without saying, but points are not awarded for finalists who are disqualified (DQ'ed, typically for a false start or illegal turn).

Let’s look through the psych sheet and compares directly between Cal (17 swimmers and 1 divers) and Texas (15 swimmers and 3 divers). First, the athletes will be:

The 17 Golden Bears swimmings and their qualified event are listed below. I believe that certain Bears may be competing in more events than listed below thanks to making the B-cut time. My breakdown below included the Bears “invited” to compete in events not listed here.

Long Gutierrez (Mexico) and Ryan Murphy (USA) are the two Calympians that went to Rio. The newest Golden Bear, Zheng Wen Quah, just enrolled in classes in January; he competed for Singapore at Rio 2016 as well. NCAA ruled him eligible despite the fact that he may have once took sponsorship money from Liberty insurance.

Here are the Texas Longhorns:

Swimming Qualifiers

Jack Conger (4th appearance, 50 free, 100 & 200 butterfly)

P.J. Dunne (2nd appearance, 500, 200 & 100 free)

Will Glass (4th appearance, 100 & 200 fly)

Townley Haas (2nd appearance, 500, 200 & 100 freestyle)

Max Holter (2nd appearance, 100 & 200 fly)

Tate Jackson (2nd appearance, 50 free, 100 fly, 100 free)

Will Licon (4th appearance, 200 IM, 100 & 200 breaststroke)

Jeremy Nichols (1st appearance, 50 & 100 free)

Jeff Newkirk (1st appearance, 500, 200 & 100 free)

Brett Ringgold (3rd appearance, 50 & 100 free, 100 fly)

Jonathan Roberts (3rd appearance, 200 & 400 IM, 200 backstroke)

Joseph Schooling (3rd appearance, 50 free, 100 & 200 fly)

John Shebat (2nd appearance, 50 free, 100 & 200 back)

Clark Smith (3rd, 500, 200 & 1,650 free)

Sam Stewart (2nd appearance [1 w/Auburn, 1 w/Texas], 200 & 400 IM, 200 breast)

Diving Qualifiers

Mark Anderson (4th appearance, 1m, 3m & platform)

Grayson Campbell (1st appearance, 1m & 3m)

Jacob Cornish (1st appearance, platform)

12 of the 19 Longhorns returnees were a part of their 2016 squad that absolutely dominated both the swimming and diving at the meet, including winning 3 relays.

Texas’ Jack Conger is perhaps well known for the wrong reason. He was one of the three young swimmers caught by in the “Lochte Mess” at Rio.

Townley Haas is another US Olympian on the Texas team, he won a Gold medal as a part of the 4x200 Free Relay. Haas won both the 500 Free and 200 Free at the NCAA last year.

Joseph Schooling is a Singapore Olympian - who also had to overcome allegation of making some endorsement money as a youngster swimming for the Singapore national team. He’s the defending champ in 100 Fly and 200 Fly.

Will Licon was Josh Prenot’s nemesis for the past few years. Now that Cal’s Prenot has graduated, Licon may have an even easier path to winning 200 IM and 200 Breast (not sure why Licon didn’t qualify for the 400 IM this year) without the Cal physics major in the mix. and 400 IM (won by Prenot last year).

Clark Smith has won the NCAA title 500 Free back in 2015. He will score for the Longhorn in the distance events (1650 Free and 500 Free).

Texas has a rich history in swimming with 12 team national championships, 60 individual (something that the Bears may surpass sitting at 58 for the moment), and 44 relays.

Breakdown of California vs. Texas (part 1)

Diving (1 meter, 3 meter, platform):

Three Texas Longhorns will compete in diving - senior Mark Anderson (1 meter, 3 meter, platform), freshman Jacob Cornish (platform), and freshman Grayson Campbell (1 meter, 3 meter).

Mark Anderson is a perennial diving scorer for the Texas Longhorns. He was an A-Finalist for both 1-meter and platform in the past and has earned 7 All-American honor in his career (including 2 A and 1 B final in the past two years).

Cornish, the Big XII winner in the platform, and Campbell are more wildcards. Given the depth of the returning divers, these guys are more likely to make the B-Finals. My hope is that Connor Callahan by himself is able to offset any points earned by Cornish and Campbell. Anderson, by himself, would then give Texas a two mid A-Final and one high B-Final total of ~40 points.


I really would not read too much into the relay psych sheet result since the exact lineup will most certainly change for the NCAA. Both schools will most likely make the A-Finals for all 5 relays. Nonetheless, here are the comparison of Cal vs. Texas in the relay.

200 Free: Cal (5th), Texas (8th)

400 Free: Cal (8th), Texas (4th)

800 Free: Cal (3rd), Texas (6th)

200 Medley: Cal (1st), Texas (17th!!)

400 Medley: Cal (3rd), Texas (2nd)

That 200 Medley psych sheet result may be why Cal has the lead on Texas based on psych sheet scoring. That’s 33 more points for the Golden Bears in that one event. I don’t think Texas will not make either A or B final of the 200 medley relay (unless that is due to a DQ).

Individual Swimming Events:

500 Free: Big edge to Texas with an A and B finalist to Cal’s 0, based on seed.

Cal - Ryan Kao (56th), Nick Norman (42nd), Ken Takahashi (48th)

Texas - Clark Smith (4th), Francis Haas (10th), Jeffrey Newkirk (23rd)

+20 pt to Texas (key is only 1 A-Finalist for Texas)

200 IM: Tight race for the title between Cal’s Andrew Seliskar and Texas’ Will Licon. Ryan Murphy may also pull a Kathleen Baker and win this event. Bears’ depth will be huge here.

Cal - Andrew Seliskar (1st), Ryan Murphy (11th), Michael Thomas (16th), Matthew Josa (21st), Matthew Whittle (61st), Jack Xiangfei Jie (66th)

Texas - Will Licon (10th), Jonathan Roberts (33rd), Samuel Steward (49th),

+20 pt to Cal (key is to have Thomas/Josa scoring points)

50 Free: Schooling is a favorite to win this event. Cal’s Sendyk could surprise though.

Cal - Pawel Sendyk (9th), Justin Lynch (20th), Michael Jensen (21st), Long Gutierrez (47th)

Texas - Joseph Schooling (3rd), Jack Conger (12th), Jeremy Nichols (42nd)

+5 to Texas (I have faith in Sendyk making the A-Final, it would be huge points for the Bears if Lynch/Jensen can score).

400 IM: Andrew Seliskar winning this event would be huge. No Licon on the psych sheet (maybe the one I have is old?).

Cal - Andrew Seliskar (5th), Ken Takahashi (29th)

Texas - Jonathan Roberts (6th), Samuel Stewart (25th)

+5 to Cal (Seliskar is a big time swimmer, those bonus points from a victory is much needed here.)

100 Fly: Schooling may be the favorite, but Cal’s Quah may be the X-factor that comes out of nowhere to challenge his Singapore teammate.

Cal - Matthew Josa (8th), Justin Lynch (9th), Zheng Quah (40th), Pawel Sendyk (42nd), Jack Xie (49th), Michael Thomas (54th)

Texas - Joseph Schooling (1st), Jack Conger (3rd), William Glass (26th), Bret Ringgold (36th), Tate Jackson (41st), Maxwell Holter (44th)

Even/+5 Texas (Texas has this on paper, but I think Quah will be a 3rd Cal scorer to Texas’ 2).

200 Free: You can’t really play defense in swimming, but this is one of those event where the Bears just got to hope that Texas don’t suddenly qualify all 4 guys.

Cal - Long Gutierrez (14th), Michael Jensen (20th), Ryan Kao (42nd)

Texas - Francis Haas (5th), Jeffrey Newkirk (25th), Patrick Dunne (28th), Clark Smith (31st)

+10 Texas (With a lot of swimmers on the heat sheet who will not compete for the team title, I think Jensen would need to step it up and hold off Newkirk/Dunne/Smith.)

100 Breast: I would love to see senior Cobleigh step it up in this event here and join Hoppe in the scoring. Texas’ Licon is the favorite here despite his seed.

Cal - Connor Hoppe (16th), Carson Sand (28th), Matthew Whittle (37th), Hunter Cobleigh (40th)

Texas - Will Licon (2nd)

+10 Texas (Bears would need two scorers to keep this around 10 point if Licon is able to win.)

100 Back: Ryan Murphy is essentially a lock for this event. Quah is again an X-factor to score in this event.

Cal - Ryan Murph (1st), Zheng Quah (38th)

Texas - John Shebat (18th)

+25 Cal (20 for a Murphy win plus some points for Quah)


Tally thus far for just diving and individual events: Texas by 35 points. Texas also got the edge in 1650 Free (+15 Texas), could possibly have two guys to balance out Murphy’s 20 in 200 Back, 100 Free could swing 10-20 point in either direction, 200 Breast will need to see a couple of Bears exceed expectation to balance out Licon (+15 Texas), and 200 Fly is the potentially a big event for Cal if several guys can improve on their seed (+50 points Cal is possible).

Spoiler alert for my conclusion of the breakdown: it’s really too close to call, but I really like Cal’s chance now that we have Quah who is capable of scoring in three events (those 35 or so point may just be the difference to balance out Texas’ diving). Know that Cal Men’s Swimming and Diving has a legit shot at the team title (unlike the women’s last week) and the difference will be those 11th-18th guys on both Cal and Texas.

As I run out of time while writing this, I will finish the rest of the break down in my Wednesday column. The key to any team championship run is the prelim swims by the guys seeded just outside the scoring range. When they find a way to break into the top 16, the entire team gets a huge emotional lift. Texas did a great job of this last year, they would need to outperform their psych sheet to repeat (typically, a swimmer will be able to outperform greatly in one event at the expense of another).

I am cautiously optimistic (but in a different way than for Cal Football or Cal Men’s Basketball because I have a lot more inherit faith in Cal Men’s Swimming) that the Golden Bears will have enough to send off Ryan Murphy with another team championship. I trust Dave Durden and team leader like Murph. It should be a lot of fun (fun = wins).