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Golden Medals: Strong showing by Cal swimming at Georgia Fall Invite

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Also, we check on Cal swimming alum at the 2018 USA Swimming Winter Nationals

Swimming: 2018 USA Swimming Phillips 66 National Championships
Andrew Seliskar is a good bet to finally win some individual NCAA titles this year
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

ICYMI, Cal Men’s Swimming head coach Dave Durden is our 1st 2020 Tokyo Calympian as he was chosen by USA Swimming to lead the Men’s Swimming squad, one that should have several familiar Cal Bears on it. He is not quitting his day job though, which is to help Cal to more NCAA titles - which will be in late March from Austin, Texas.

Top ranked Cal Men’s Swimming cemented themselves as the top threat to dethrone Texas last weekend when they posted another dominant team performance from the fairly stacked field of the Georgia Fall Invite from Athens, Georgia last weekend.

Led by senior Andrew Seliskar (2 individual wins in 200 IM and 200 Breast and part of 3 winning relays), Golden Bears won that meet by a final total of 1163 team points over Michigan (1027.5), host Georgia (7955), Virginia (515), and Harvard (45). It might be more clear to say that the Golden Bears dominated the meet by winning all 5 relays and 8 individual races, often over a fellow Bear.

In addition to Seliskar, sophomore Daniel Carr is keeping up with the great Cal backstroke tradition by winning both the 100 Back and 200 Back. He also swam the leadoff backstroke leg for the two medley relays, which Cal won. Other Cal individual winners include sprinter Pawel Sendyk in 50 Free, sprinter Michael Jensen in 100 Free (over fellow Bears in Sendyk and Ryan Hoffer), junior and Singapore Olympian* Zheng Quah in 200 Fly, and freshman sensation Reese Whitley in the 100 Breast (Whitley finished 2nd to Seliskar in the 200 Breast). Golden Bears have a nice balance of successes from every class.

Cal diving also had a good weekend. 2x NCAA championship finalist Conor Callahan placed 2nd twice and had a 3rd in the 3 diving events. Fellow divers Johnny Robinson and Jackson Gabler also finished in the top 11 in all 3 events, including the top 6 in platform diving (which Cal only got on campus for training with the opening of Legends Aquatic Center).

Several Bears have already posted NCAA A-qualifying time at this meet (swimmers generally see a huge taper in time between the end of the calendar year training and the conference championships). Seliskar already met the A-time in 3 events: 200 Free, 200 Breast, 200 IM. Whitley met the A-time in both 100 and 200 Breast. Quah has an A-time in 200 Fly. Everything is pointing toward the Golden Bears winning a bunch of NCAA titles again, and possibly dethroning Texas for the Bears’ first NCAA team title since 2014.

The SwimSwam “swimulator” has the Golden Bears currently in 1st place with a 75 point lead on Texas. Of course, Texas got 81 points to Cal’s 0 points in diving last year; none of the Texas divers graduated, unfortunately. Nonetheless, the Bears are known to consistently outscoring their projections. It should be another close and exciting NCAA national championship.

Here are the list of Cal victories on the men’s side:

  • 200 Free relay - Pawel Sendyk, Ryan Hoffer, Michael Jensen, Andrew Seliskar
  • 200 IM - Andrew Seliskar, senior, over Zheng Quah, junior
  • 50 Free - Pawel Sendyk, junior
  • 400 Medley relay - Daniel Carr, Reece Whitley, Zheng Quah, Ryan Hoffer
  • 200 Medley relay - Daniel Carr, Reece Whitley, Pawel Sendyk, Michael Jensen
  • 100 Breast - Reese Whitley, freshman, over Carson Sand, senior
  • 100 Back - Daniel Carr, sophomore
  • 800 Free relay - Andrew Seliskar, Bryce Mefford, Zheng Quah, Mike Thomas
  • 200 Back - Daniel Carr, sophomore
  • 100 Free - Michael Jensen over Pawel Sendyk and Ryan Hoffer
  • 200 Breast - Andrew Seliskar, senior, over Reese Whitley, freshman
  • 200 Fly - Zheng Quah, junior, over Mike Thomas, senior
  • 400 Free relay - Michael Jensen, Ryan Hoffer, Pawel Sendyk, Andrew Seliskar

Cal men’s swimming is done racing until the end of January. Before then, the squad is likely to do their annual training trip to Colorado again.

The Pac-12 championship this year is March 6th to March 9th from Federal Way, Washington. The NCAA championship will be hosted by University of Texas in Austin from March 27th to 30th.


For the Cal women, they placed 3rd with a total of 827.5 points in this meet behind Michigan (944) and host Georgia (835) but ahead of Virginia (631), UCLA (425.5), and Harvard (78). Life after Calympian Kathleen Baker turning pro this past offseason means that the Golden Bears may not be in position to seize the vacuum at the top of the collegiate women’s swimming world vacated by Stanford’s Katie Ledecky turning pro as well as Simone Manuel graduating. Nonetheless, head coach Teri McKeever’s squad had a good meet in winning 4 of 5 relays and 3 individual events.

Ready to be the face of collegiate women’s swimming this year is junior Calympian Abbey Weitzeil. Weitzeil had a great meet in winning both 50 Free and 100 Free (setting a new school record with the time of 46.49 seconds) along with swimming a leg in all 4 Cal winning relays. With the graduation of Stanford’s Simone Manuel, Abbey Weitzeil should be the favorite for both sprint events in the NCAA championships in 2019; Weitzeil’s spot in the NCAA is already booked thanks to her meeting the A-time in both 50 and 100 Free this past weekend.

Sophomore Sarah Darcel is the other Cal individual winner by taking the 400 IM. Bears have numerous top 8 finishers in all of the other events. Junior Keaton Blovad finished 2nd in 100 Back; more importantly, she has replaced Kathleen Baker as the A-relay backstroker as the Bears won both medley relays. Dutch Olympian* Robin Neumann finished as the runner-up in 200 Free. Cal senior Katie McLaughlin, who had a good summer swimming at the US Nations, finished 3rd in 100 Fly.

Looking at the “swimulator” again, Cal is in a close 3rd place currently behind Michigan and Texas. Bears are projected to finish just ahead of Stanford. Unlike the Cal men, the Cal women have yet to hit their stride on the season. With a wide open field this year, Golden Bears just might get a boost from several talented youngsters to make up that small difference comes March.

Here are the list of Cal victories on the women’s side:

  • 200 Free relay - Maddie Murphy, Katie McLaughlin, Amy Bilquist, Abbey Weitzeil
  • 50 Free - Abbey Weitzeil, junior
  • 200 Medley relay - Keaton Blovad, Ema Rajic, Katie McLaughlin, Abbey Weitzeil
  • 400 IM - Sarah Darcel, sophomore
  • 800 Free relay - Abbey Weitzeil, Robin Neumann, Sarah Darcel, Katie McLaughlin
  • 100 Free - Abbey Weitzeil, junior
  • 400 Free relay - Keaton Blovad, Robin Neumann, Katie McLaughlin, Abbey Weitzeil

Cal women’s swimming has one more meet in 2018 when they host San Jose State on December 19th at Spieker. They will then take their annual winter training trip to Hawaii before more dual meets at the end of January.

The Pac-12 championship this year is February 27th to March 2nd from Federal Way, Washington. The NCAA championship will be hosted by University of Texas in Austin from March 20th to 23rd.


Cal alum at the Winter Nationals Recap

The Pro groups of Cal swimming raced at Greensboro, NC this past weekend at the USA Swimming’s Winter Nationals. This year, the races are in the long course pool (AKA the kind of races that are swam at the Olympics).

Calympian Jacob Pebley had arguably the best meet by winning not only the 200m Back, but also the 200m Free. Because he just swam the 200m Free, Pebley finished a close 2nd in the 100m Back. Yes, fellow Calympian Ryan Murphy was not racing at this meet, but that’s still quite a great result for Pebley.

Calympian legend (and CGB Hall of Famer) Nathan Adrian won the 50m Free and finished 2nd in the 100m Free. On the women’s side, Cal alum Madison Kennedy took 2nd place in 50m Free.

Calympian legend (and CGB Hall of Famer) Dana Vollmer is back racing competitively after giving birth to her 2nd child. Vollmer finished 4th in 100m Fly, an event where she still owns the American Record from the 2012 Beijing Olympics.


Coming up for Golden Bears, both current and past, is the FINA Short Course World Championship from Hangzhou, China

This short course world championship will take place between Tuesday, December 11th –and Sunday, December 16th.

Amongst the Golden Bears on the USA provisional list includes: Ryan Murphy, Josh Prenot, Jacob Pebley, and Michael Jensen on the men’s side. Kathleen Baker and Madison Kennedy are on the women’s side.

Other International Bears include Stephaie Au for Hong Kong and Marina Garcia for Spain.

Best of luck to all of Cal alum at this big meet!

GO BEARS!

*For my articles, the distinction of Olympians and Calympians have to do with whether they are affiliated with Cal (either as a current student, alum, or just commit - the last group includes Abbey Weitzeil) when they participated in the Olympics. Those affiliated with Cal are “Calympians” while those not yet returning to the Olympics after their affiliation with Cal will be called just Olympians.