INDIANAPOLIS — Few things are as reliable in Cal Athletics as Ryan Murphy winning a backstroke race, especially when it matters - in the NCAA final with the national championship on the line. Murphy does it again on Friday night, winning the 100 Back with a time of 43.99 (not quite the 43.49 record that he set last year - but then again, last year was an Olympic year - not that Murph would admit to take the year after the Olympics to be a bit lighter. This is his 4th 100 Back title in his collegiate career. Murphy will go for his 4th 200 Back national title tonight after qualifying this morning with the top time of 1:38.22. Should “Murph” pull off this double for the 4th consecutive year, that’s about as dominant as one can possibly get in a swim stroke in his/her college career.
The main challenger to Murphy may be Texas Longhorn sophomore John Shebat, whose backstroke split in the 400 medley and 200 medley relays were close enough to that of Murphy to allow Texas to win both of those events. The Engineering major and his mother apparently lobbied Texas head coach Eddie Reese for a spot on the team. While Shebat acknowledged that Murphy is “the greatest backstroker of all time” while being baited into a sound bite last night, he showed some quiet confidence in his own ability to pull off the huge upset. Shebat has the 3rd best prelim time in the 200 Back.
In an enlightening interview, Ryan Murphy talks about why he didn’t turn pro after the Olympics last year to instead enjoy this senior year season of his college career. He said, “NCAA is the best meet, Olympics included, just because of the energy and passion in every session." Sure, he can probably post better time if he’s not also swimming the relays, but the NCAA is all about the team points. In the end of the interview, a softball question from Cal swim alum Henri Barbosa got Murphy to rave about his experience at Cal. He chose Cal because of the academics and the young, hungry coaches (Dave Durden and Yuri Suguiyama) and “it’s the best decision that [he] could have made” - given both Murphy getting into Haas business (“one of the most competitive major in the country”) and training with “the best men’s group in the country as evident by the [Rio 2016] Olympics.”
Andrew Seliskar swam a 3:36.18 on Friday night to drop 4 seconds off his prelim time in the morning (that took the 8th and final spot of the A-Final); that started a big emotional lift for the team to start the night session. Seliskar talked about improving his 400 IM time tremendously. He also said that having the Cal swim alum cheering section is a huge advantage that only the Cal swimmers get at the meet. Seliskar also talks about his relationship with assistant coach Yuri (he’s a mentor to “Selly” on school and life) and how the team is doing in this meet (bouncing back from DQ’s and other setbacks better than before).
Speaking of the Cal swim alumni cheering sections, several of the alum have a $125 Bear suits on for the finals. On Friday night, Calympians Nathan Adrian, Josh Prenot, Anthony Ervin, Roque Santos, Damir Dugonjic, Henrique Barbosa and more (that I probably just did not recognize) were all on hand to cheer on the latest group of Cal Bears. Stanford’s Maya DiRado may have been here for the Stanford women’s win last week, but that group is nowhere as organized or have consistently shown up every year as the Cal men’s swim alumni.
Anyhow, here is the quick recap of Friday action:
400 IM - Young Andrew Seliskar started the 400 IM fast en route to hold on to the 2nd place behind Georgia’s Chase Kalisz who dominated this event again to break his 4 years old record with a time of 3:33.42 (nearly 3 seconds better than Seliskar.)
100 Fly - On the heel of the great Seliskar swim, Cal junior Justin Lynch followed with a win in the consolation B-final. In the A-final, Cal’s Zheng Quah and Matthew Josa went 5th and 6th...until Josa was DQ’ed for the 2nd time this week for “non-simultaneous touch”. It was a tough blow to the Cal team.
200 Free - Long Gutierrez finished 14th overall to score points in this event. Texas sophomore Townley Haas won this event for the 2nd consecutive year.
100 Breast - Cal junior Connor Hoppe was in the middle of the front running pack in this one, but Texas’ Will Licon prevailed. Hoppe has to settle for 4th place.
3-meter diving - Cal freshman Connor Callahan is 37th out of 50 players. I think platform diving might be his best event. It will be his last chance to score points at this meet and earn All-American status.
200 Medley Relay - Texas set a new NCAA record with Alabama right behind them. Cal took 3rd place with Ryan Murphy (20.47), Connor Hoppe (23.16), Justin Lynch (20.04), and Pawel Sendyk (18.61).
1. Texas 391.5
2. California 253
3. Florida 224.5
4. NC State 196
5. Indiana 189.5
Conceding that it’s impossible to catch Texas, things are pretty tight between 2 through 5 (Indiana has the edge in diving). Golden Bears should hold on to the 2nd place, but it may get a bit close (dependent on the last event).
Saturday Night Preview:
1650 Free - “the mile swim” will be competed in the afternoon. Cal’s Ryan Kao and Nick Norman will race in this event.
Comes 3 PM PT, it will be the fastest heat of the 1650 Free until 3:30 PM PT.
200 Back - Senior Ryan Murphy goes for history to four-peat.
100 Free - No Golden Bears qualified for this event, missing out by a slim margin.
200 Breast - Senior Hunter Cobleigh in the B-Final. Connor Hoppe would have made the B-Final too but was the 3rd Cal DQ of the week - (reason given was “butterfly kick”).
200 Fly - Individual swimming events conclude with the 200 Fly where Cal has two A-Finalist in the enigma that is Zheng Quah (2x Singapore Olympian is only a Cal freshman who started school in January) along with Andrew Seliskar. Cal sophomore Mike Thomas will swim in the B-Final.
400 Free Relay - The last event of the meet will also be the last collegiate swim for Ryan Murphy and Long Gutierrez. Can the Golden Bears sent their two Calympian seniors out with a relay title? Bears (Lynch, Murphy, Jensen, Gutierrez) finished 6th in the prelim.
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.
My preview of the entire meet: CGB
Prelims starts at 7 AM PT, Finals starts at 3 PM PT
Saturday Prelims: IUPUI
Saturday Finals: ESPN3
Live swimming results: Swimming Results
Live diving results: Diving Results
Schedule: Indiana Sports Corp
California Golden Bears National Championships at the 2017 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships
Ryan Murphy - 100 Back - 43.99 (Pool Record)