It was not a surprising result, but we also should not take it for granted. No.1 (based on dual meet format which is vastly different from this Pac-12 championships or the NCAA championships in two weeks) Cal Men’s Swimming (and Diving...done last week during the woman’s swimming) was dominant in winning the program’s 6th Pac-12 title this past weekend.
Golden Bears finished with 948 points, ahead of second place Stanford at 716 points. Arizona finished 3rd with 570 points.
Before we shift focus to the main focus of the season, which is ALWAYS the NCAA National Championships, that will start in 3 weeks. Let’s take a closer look at the dominance that was Cal Men’s Swimming at this meet.
Out of the 21 events at this meet, 3 of them are diving. Of the 18 swimming events, Golden Bears won all 5 relays (just like the Cal women last week) and 10 of 13 individual events.
Andrew Seliskar wins his 3rd Pac-12 Swimmer of the Meet honor
Senior Andrew Seliskar won 3 individual events in 200 IM, 200 Free, and 200 Breast for a total 11 Pac-12 titles in his career. His 10th title on Friday gave him the men’s record.
The 11th Pac-12 individual titles won by Seliskar on Saturday night ties him with former Stanford’s women’s swimming alum Jenny Thompson. Oh, Seliskar also set a new Pac-12 Championships record in the 200 Breast win with a time of 1:49.80.
"Some of my most cherished memories in swimming have been at this championship meet. It’s a blessing and I’m really proud to have done well over four years." #calmenswim #GoBears pic.twitter.com/SyApCu9lUY— Cal Men's Swimming (@calmenswim) March 10, 2019
Seliskar has set a new 200 Free Pac-12 record earlier in the week.
Seliskar also swam in the Pac-12 winning 800 Free relay (Wednesday), 400 Medley Relay (the Fly leg on Friday), and 400 Free Relay (the anchor leg on Saturday). He nearly matched the feat of Cal junior Abby Weitzeil from last week when Weitzeil was also named the Pac-12 Swimmer of the Meet after winning 3 individual titles (50 Free, 100 Free, 200 Free) in addition to take part in 4 winning relays. Counting the relay wins, Seliskar has 21 total Pac-12 titles in his 4 years Cal career.
What Seliskar will be seeking for the first time in 3 weeks, is his first NCAA individual title. He has come close but not quite to the top of the podium at the NCAA. The former top overall recruit in the country, Andrew Seliskar has steadily improved over the year. He should be considered a good bet to make his first Olympic games in 2020, even if one can never assume that because everything is decided by the always tough US Olympic Swimming Trials.
Cal Bears Relay Dominates all 5 events
Like head coach Dave Durden said in the post-meet interview, Cal Men’s Swimming had to win all the relays just to match the feat accomplished by Cal Women’s Swimming last week.
Bears won both relays on Wednesday night to open the swimming portion of the meet.
First the lineup of Daniel Carr (back), Reece Whitley (breast), Pawel Sendyk (fly), and Ryan Hoffer (free) won the 200 medley relay.
Daniel Carr, Reece Whitley, Pawel Sendyk and Ryan Hoffer win the 200-yard medley relay for @calmenswim to open up the Pac-12 Men's Swimming Championships! Next up is the 800-yard freestyle relay #BackThePac pic.twitter.com/wptf58Trqj— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) March 7, 2019
Then the more senior lineup of Zheng Quah, Andrew Seliskar, Trenton Julian, and Mike Thomas shattered the record in winning the 800 Free relay.
Another victory for @calmenswim on the first night of the #Pac12Swim Men's Championships, this time setting a Pac-12 record in the 800-yard freestyle with a mark of 6:10.94 with the team of Zheng Quah, Andrew Seliskar, Trenton Julian and Mike Thomas! #BackThePac pic.twitter.com/lekihEdu3a— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) March 7, 2019
Bears then took the 200 Free relay on Thursday with the lineup of Pawel Sendyk, Ryan Hoffer, Michael Jensen, and Zheng Quah. Sendyk Hoffer, and Jensen went 1-2-3 in the 50 Free individual final, so this win was hardly a surprise.
The Friday relay win was the 400 medley relay with Daniel Carr (back), Reece Whitley (breast), Andrew Seliskar (fly), and Michael Jensen.
Everything has long been decided by the time of the meet ending 400 Free relay. Fittingly, Andrew Seliskar gets to end his Pac-12 Championship career by swimming the winning anchor leg of another relay victory.
Thanks to the double point total of the relays at the NCAA, particular of the bonus point for winning an event, it is pivotal for the Cal Golden Bears to also dominate at the relays at the NCAA. Additionally, with the similar format of relays to open the action on the first night, Bears will be able to set the tone on the meet and put some pressure on those host Texas Longhorns.
Head coach Dave Durden has plenty of depth on this team, meaning that he should have an easy time in resting key swimmers during the relay prelims during the NCAA without worrying about falling out of the A-Finals. It would be pivotal for the Cal Bears to earn an extra 30 points on Texas in the 5 relay events at the NCAA...even if the Bears can obviously only control their own finishes in those events.
Pawel Sendyk wins both 50 Free and 100 Free
In addition to Seliskar, Bears got two other multiple individual event winners.
Junior Pawel Sendyk won both sprint events.
His 100 Free relay win was kind of unexpected since he didn’t have a great prelim swim and had to win the final from lane 8.
Sendyk’s biggest competition came from within the team as teammates Ryan Hoffer (in 50 Free) and Michael Jensen (100 Free) had to play the bridesmaid. All three Golden Bears finished in the top 4 of both events, showcasing the Bears’ depth in this event.
Singapore Olympian Zheng Quah wins 100 Fly and 200 Fly
Fellow junior Zheng Quah won both Fly events at this meet.
Just like Sendyk, Quah has won these events at the Pac-12 before. Quah actually broke his own Pac-12 record from last year in the 200 Fly.
The Singapore Olympian (which almost cost him his NCAA eligibility due to how even amateur athletes in his country are supported by the swimming federation) bested Sendyk for the 100 Fly win. Ryan Hoffer was 4th in that event.
Quah was the top dog of another all-Cal podium for the 200 Fly. He bested teammates Trenton Julian and Mike Thomas for the title.
Quah also placed 8th in the 100 Back.
Mike Thomas wins 1st Pac-12 title in his senior season - 400 IM
Kudos to senior Mike Thomas on picking up his first individual Pac-12 title. Thomas has come close to winning a Pac-12 title before, but often bested by a teammate.
He added a 3rd in 200 Fly and 5th in 200 IM in this meet, individually.
Nick Norman wins 1st Pac-12 title in his senior season -
1650 Free (the mile swim)
Senior Nick Norman set the stage of a complete final day dominance by the Bears (Cal won all 6 events on Saturday night) by taking the mile swim.
Norman set a new Pac-12 record with his time of 14:33.96.
That was insane. @calmenswim's Nick Norman blew away the field in the 1650 free with a time of 14:33.96. He broke the Pac-12 meet record and won the 2019 #Pac12Swim title.— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) March 10, 2019
Watch #Pac12Swim live: https://t.co/ZhZuI5ezsa pic.twitter.com/8IlCkIvgHk
The distance swimmer also finished 5th in the 500 Free.
Bryce Mefford wins 200 Back
Cal might not dominate the backstroke as much now that Ryan Murphy has graduated. Still Bears have two great backstrokers in sophomores Bryce Mefford and Daniel Carr.
Mefford won the 200 Back ahead of 100 Back winner Zachary Poti of ASU and Carr.
This is his first Pac-12 title of his Cal career.
Mefford finished 5th in the 100 Back where teammate Carr finished 2nd behind Poti.
Solid freshman debut by Reece Whitley as he claims 2 2nd place finishes in breaststrokes
One of the most heralded newcomer in the country, freshman Reece Whitley did not disappoint in his first Pac-12 Championships.
While Whitley finishing behind USC’s Carsten Vissering was disappointing (Vissering also edged Whitley at the in-season dual meet), Whitley was the only swimmer in Andrew Seliksar’s neighborhood in the 200 Breast final.
The pair of 2nd place finishes put Whitley at the top of a long list of Golden Bears who did not find the top of the podium but nonetheless scored a ton of points by making the A-Final in multiple events. His two 2nd place finish is matched by sophomore Daniel Carr in the backstroke events; Carr also had a 5th place finish in the 200 IM. Both Carr and Whitley swam the back and breast leg, respectively, in the Cal winning medley relays.
Sophomore Ryan Hoffer (the previous year’s top recruit in the country) finished 2nd (50 Free), 4th (100 Fly), and 4th (100 Free).
Sophomore Trenton Julian placed 2nd (500 Free), 4th (200 Free), and 2nd (200 Fly).
Sophomore Sean Grieshop took 3rd (500 Free), 3rd (400 IM), and 3rd (1650 Free).
Junior Michael Jensen placed 3rd (50 Free), 13th (100 Fly), and 2nd (100 Free).
All of these Bears will be counted on to score a bunch of points at the NCAA.
Other Bears to place in the A-Finals (and likely will also make the NCAA where they will hopeful at least score some B-Final points) include Ken Takahashi (8th in 400 IM), Nate Biondi (7th in 50 Free), Karl Arvidsson (6th in 100 Breast, 5th in 200 Breast), Carson Sand (7th in 100 Breast), Ethan Young (7th in 100 Back), and Jack Xie (5th in 200 Fly).
There is a lot of depth on this team.
Bears will next hope for some diving good news from the NCAA Zone Diving Championship next week ahead of the NCAA Swimming and Diving (the 2nd part is quite important) National Championships in two weeks (March 27th-30th) from Austin, Texas.
Texas Longhorns have dominated all the titles, thanks to their depth in diving in addition to strong swimming, since the Bears last won the NCAA crown (program’s 5th) in 2014. It will be a very close fight between the two schools for the 2019 team title. Cal swimming just might be able to cover the projected ~80 point edge from diving by Texas.
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!