After 5 days of racing at the Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships from Irvine, California last week, a total of 9 Golden Bears will be a part of the 57 swimmers Team USA contingent to the Pan Pacific championships in Tokyo, Japan at the end of August.
Congratulations to Andrew Seliskar, Jacob Pebley, Josh Prenot, Nathan Adrian, Ryan Murphy, and Sean Greishop on the men’s side and Abbey Weitziel, Kathleen Baker, and Katie McLaughlin on the women’s side. 6 of the 9 Cal Bears have Olympics experiences, with Cal seniors Andrew Seliskar and Katie McLaughlin as well as sophomore Sean Greishop looking to join the ranks of “Calympians” in two years.
These Golden Bears earned their spots on the team by finishing in the top 3 of most events, or top 6 in the relay events (100m and 200m freestyle).
If you are relatively new to swimming, these international competitions are raced in different size pools than those used for college events. In college, swimmers races in “short courses” that are merely 25 yards in length. In international competitions (like the Olympics), the races are conducted in 50 meter long pools. While a yard is similar in length to a meter, the college races of 100 yards and 200 yards are slightly shorter than the international races of 100 meters and 200 meters. More importantly, there is a completely different set of world records for the races conducted in two different kind of events.
A total of 8 USA national titles were won by the Cal Bears, including 3 apiece to senior Kathleen Baker and recent graduate Ryan Murphy - both are particularly strong in the backstroke.
Baker finished in a tie for the 200m backstroke, while setting a new world record in the 100m backstroke. The Cal Bear also won the 200m IM event. In the 2017 NCAA national championships, Baker won the NCAA titles in 100y backstroke, 200y backstroke, and 200y IM to be named the Swimmer of the Meet over Katie Ledecky.
Ryan Murphy dominated all three distances of the backstroke, claiming victories in 200m, 100m, and the 50m race. Murphy’s 50m race resulted in a new American record. In his college career, Murphy won both the 100y and 200y backstroke titles for all 4 years - becoming the second person to accomplish this feat for the backstroke. John Naber (USC - backstroke), Pablo Morales (Stanford - butterfly), and Brendan Hansen (Texas - breaststroke) are the other three swimmers in NCAA history to dominate a stroke like Murphy did.
Also winning events are Cal senior Andrew Seliskar in the 200m Free and recent graduate Josh Prenot in the 200m Breast.
The race videos for the first 5 wins (Seliskar in Men’s 200 Free, Prenot in Men’s 200 Breast, Baker in Women’s 200 Back, Murphy in Men’s 200 Back and 50 Back - the latter is a new American record) are in the previous post.
Baker wins the 100 Back
Baker reclaims the best ever women’s backstroke time in the 100 meter to the Cal history book with her victory. The 2016 Rio silver medalist in this event, Kathleen Baker broke the mark of 58.10 set by Canada’s Kylie Masse last year by posting a time of 58.00. The previous record before that was set by Cal alum Missy Franklin, with a time of 58.33. This event has been Baker’s best one in the past. However, this meet has allowed her to showcase her versatility for the first time in the national stage, after she did this in the college stage in 2017.
Baker told CalBears.com:
“I’ve had a really great season of training, and having the qualifying meet a little bit later really helped recover off of college swimming and get a lot of long course (training) in,” said Baker, who recently completed her junior season with the Golden Bears. “I did a 200 back backstroke at practice – hard, every single week this summer – and I think that helped me get used to the pain of doing a 200, which made the 100 feel easier.”
Baker wins the 200 IM
Adding to the world record, Kathleen Baker also left Irvine with the American record in the 200 IM, one day later. Baker touched the wall with a time of 2:08.32 ahead of Georgia alum Melanie Margalis and Stanford’s Ella Eastin. Thleen was able to shave 3 seconds off her previous personal best by improving her breaststroke.
More from Baker in the post-race. She talks about not really focusing on the IM in past big meets.
Murphy wins the 100 Back
Ryan Murphy just edges another Olympic vet in Matt Grevers for the 100 backstroke title. While USA has dominated the backstroke, no single Olympian has repeated as Gold medalist. Cal alum Ryan Murphy will look to change that as he is still very much one of the best backstroker in the world right now. “Murph” is the favorite for the Golds in both the 100 and 200 comes 2020 Tokyo games, but we are obviously still two years away.
Murphy caps his week by completing the sweep by winning the last of the backstroke races in the 100 meter.
Golden Bears are threats to medal in the Pan Pacific in a variety of events. Obviously, Kathleen Baker and Ryan Murphy are the main people to watch. However, Andrew Seliskar and Josh Prenot are also very capable of winning international titles. One can also never count out Nathan Adrian in the sprint events.
Check back to CGB in a few weeks for more Pan Pacific coverage as numerous other World (and American) Records are likely to be broken.