INDIANAPOLIS — The last night of the 2017 Men’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships saw plenty of NCAA records being broken. The lone exception? Ryan Murphy did not beat his old record from last year en route to winning his 4th NCAA national championship in the 200-yard backstroke - Murphy merely swam the 2nd best time ever with a 1:36.75. With that swim, Murphy was able to complete the rare feat of sweeping the NCAA national championships in both backstroke races - 100-yard and 200-yard for all 4 years of his collegiate career. That’s pure dominance in a stroke that’s rarely seen in NCAA swimming.
Murphy joined a very selective group of John Naber (USC - backstroke), Pablo Morales (Stanford - butterfly), and Brendan Hansen (Texas - breaststroke) as swimmers who won both distances of a given stroke for all four years of college. Nevertheless, Murphy wanted to talk more about his Cal teammate - how this was “the best group of guys, no egos” that he’s been on. Murphy’s actual last swim was the 2nd leg of the meet ending 400 Free relay where Cal placed 4th. That is unless his “I’m working on my 5th year of eligibility” was not a joke (it’s at the very beginning of the video...and it was a joke).
We will sift through Murphy’s best quotes in the early part of next week to highlight all the great stuff he’s talked about Cal, from both the academics, to his coaches, his best friends (aka the swim team), etc.
As for the rest of the meet, California Golden Bears finished as national runner-up yet again, with 349 team points behind Texas Longhorns’ 542. Longhorns have won this meet for the 3rd straight year (with Cal as the runner-up). Florida Gators were 3rd with 294.5 points. Golden Bears overcame 3 DQ’s that would have gave them individual scores. Under head coach Dave Durden, Cal is either first (3x) or second (5x) in the last 8 years.
The Bears finish NCAAs in 2nd place making it 8 straight years of placing top 2. Roll on you Bears!!!! pic.twitter.com/LQfEDngwwy— cathy durden (@CathyDurden) March 26, 2017
Looking ahead at next year, Cal will obviously miss a reliable source of points in Ryan Murphy. However, Texas Longhorns will also graduate Will Licon (3 NCAA titles in this meet - 100 Breast, 200 Breast, 200 IM), Clark Smith (shattered both NCAA records for 500 Free and 1650 Free), and Jack Conger (winner of 200 Fly as well as relays). Cal’s Andrew Seliskar should ascend from 2nd place in 400 IM to the front runner (Georgia’s Chase Kalisz has also graduated) and be the favorite in 200 IM and 200 Fly. Newest Golden Bears, Singapore Olympian, Zhen Quah will be much more familiar with the yard-swimming (he again, only started in January...and already took 2nd in 200 Fly) and be a contender for titles. Given the reputation of the program, there is little doubt that another strong recruiting class will give us more future Calympians.
Murphy will graduate from the team section to the stands. He will likely be found hanging out with the Cal swim alum in Bear suits.
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!
Saturday Night Craziness
1650 Free - That final heat is arguably the best swim/race ever as 4 guys, that is FOUR, all broke the old NCAA record in the “mile” swim. Texas’ Clark Smith won with 14:22.41, just ahead of Michigan’s Felix Auboeck (14:22.88).
200 Back - That Ryan Murphy guy from Cal won this event again. Murphy actually faced a pretty strong challenge from Texas sophomore Jon Shebat, but Murphy came from behind for the win with a time of 1:36.75 - 2nd fastest swim behind Murphy’s win last year.
100 Free - Florida’s Caeleb Dressel obliterated the old record and swam a 40.00 flat for the win. Anthony Ervin, who witnessed this race literally two rows in front of me, had the following opinion.
40.00 is the greatest barrier in NCAA history— Anthony Ervin (@AnthonyErvin) March 26, 2017
200 Breast - Will Licon set the record here with a 1:47.91. Cal’s Hunter Cobleigh, one of 3 seniors alongside Ryan Murphy and Long Gutierrez, had a strong swim in the B-final to only get out-touched at the end of 2nd place (10th place).
200 Fly - Jack Conger broke the record with a 1:37.35. Just behind him is Cal’s Zheng Quah, who said post race that he’s still not sure about the conversion from meter swimming to yard swimming (the change in the number of strokes and what the time expectation is). Cal’s Andrew Seliskar finished 6th.
Platform Diving - David Dinsmore of Miami is the winner here. Cal’s Connor Callahan had his top finish with 22nd.
400 Free Relay - Golden Bears went with the quartet of Justin Lynch, Ryan Murphy, Long Gutierrez, and Michael Jensen to finish 4th - 2:48.49. Texas broke another NCAA record when Brett Ringgold, Jack Conger, Townley Haas, and Jospeh Schooling went 2:45.39.
It’s been an interesting week and a half to be Indianapolis to watch both the Cal women’s and men’s swimming and diving place 2nd place in the NCAA team title race. I was certainly hoping for more, but it was still a treat to see Ryan Murphy dominates this week or Kathleen Baker winning the Swimmer of the Year award last week en route to 3 national championships.
Spring break is over now for me, and it’s time for me to go back to my real life job (I actually think my school is taking a spring break next week...not that my job as a postdoc interact with the students that much).
California Golden Bears National Championships at the 2017 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships
Ryan Murphy - 100 Back: 43.99 (Pool Record)
Ryan Murphy - 200 Back: 1:36.75 (Pool record)