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Cal at ‘19 World Aquatics Championships Recap: 7 relay, 1 team, 2 individual medals

Also Cal alum Johnny Hooper of USA Men’s Water Polo suffered minor injuries in balcony collapse incident.

Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships: Swimming - Day 8
Two Cal Bears joined forces to help USA to a Silver in the Men’s 4x100 Medley Relay
Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

The 2019 World Championships concluded this past weekend. Cal Golden Bears alumni added 3 more medals in the final 2 days, in addition to another near miss.

Cal alum Farida Osman added to her historic first medal from the last World Championships two years ago. Osman again earned a Bronze in the 50 Fly race; an Egyptian Calympian, Osman was the first African to win a swimming medal two years ago (it was in fact the same three swimmers in the same order in this event as 2 year ago). A good bet to be an Olympian again next summer in Tokyo, it is a shame that 50 Fly is not an event in the Olympic Games (only 100 and 200 Fly are raced).

Nearly adding a 2nd individual medal was Cal alum Ryan Murphy, who was a mere 0.02 second away from the podium in the 50 Back which he finished 4th. In the 3 backstroke events, Murphy earned one Silver (200 Back) and had two 4th place finishes (50 and 100 Back).

Murphy did add to his hardware haul by earning a 2nd relay title (and 3 total). Teaming up with fellow Cal alum Nathan Adrian, USA took Silver in the Men’s 4x100 Medley Relay. Murphy lead off with the backstroke while Nathan Adrian finished the race with the freestyle. Wilson (breaststroke) and Dressel (fly) completed the USA lineup. Florida alum Caeleb Dressel set a new record at this meet with 8 medals, breaking the previous record held by Michael Phelps.

When it was all over, Team USA did fairly well at this World Championships with Cal men’s head coach Dave Durden at the helm of the men’s team and Cal women’s head coach Teri McKeever as an assistant for the women’s team. The stars for the meet were Florida alum Caeleb Dressel and Stanford alum Simone Manuel. Katie Ledecky missed the beginning of the week with a sickness but did race and win toward the end of the week. Stanford also has a future commit, Regan Smith, who earned a lot of accolades for breaking Missy Franklin’s 200 Back world record - Stanford is seriously threatening Cal for the title of Backstroke U (IF Smith does not turn pro early and actually race for the Cardinal).

Against their lofty results in the past decade, Cal alumni as a whole did underwhelmed. Then again, Kathleen Baker, Josh Prenot, Jacob Pebley, Andrew Seliskar, etc. do have some time to regain their mojos ahead of the US Olympic Trials next June and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games next July/August. Swimming should again be the one sport where Cal Golden Bears shine next summer.

Recent Cal alum Johnny Hooper, USA Men’s Water Polo, suffers minor injuries in balcony collapse accident

As the 2019 World Championships ended in Gwangju, South Korea - several athletes including a few Americans were hurt when a night club (a Coyote Ugly...which I guess is a chain?) balcony collapsed. There were two fatalities, apparently both South Korean nationals, but several athletes were injured - including a Cal Bear.

Cal alum Johnny Hooper was one of three Americans who were on a night club balcony when it collapsed. There to celebrate USA women’s water polo’s Gold medal result (USA men’s water polo finished 9th), Hooper needed stitches for cuts on his left hand but avoided more serious injuries. Articles on Hooper’s condition does NOT mention whether this injury will impact his availability for the Pan American games - from July 26th to August 11th from Lima, Peru. Nonetheless, Hooper was probably fortunate to not be hurt more given that he experienced one second or so of free fall.

Final Cal Medals Tally for FINA 2019 Gwanju:

1 Gold: Men’s 4x100 Free Relay (USA with Nathan Adrian)

7 Silvers: Men’s 200 Back (Ryan Murphy, USA), Women’s 4x100 Free Relay (USA with Abbey Weitzeil), Mixed 4x100 Medley Relay (USA with Ryan Murphy), Women’s 4x200 Free Relay (USA with Katie McLaughlin), Women’s Water Polo (Spain with Roser Tarrago), Men’s 4x100 Medley Relay (USA with Ryan Murphy and Nathan Adrian)

2 Bronzes: Men’s 4x200 Free Relay (USA with Andrew Seliskar), Women’s 50 Fly (Farida Osman, Egypt)