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No. 15 USC comes to No. 2 Cal for big rematch

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FEBRUARY 01, 2017

In the swim world, there is no such thing as a buzzer beater. There is no final Hail Mary play that can be organized when a team is down going into the last events. A win in a dual meet is not just composed of a few huge wins, but consistent performances throughout the day. Last spring semester, Cal was lacking some of its signature energy as it suffered a dual meet loss against Southern California.

No. 2 Cal will get its rematch against No. 15 University of Southern California at Spieker Aquatic Center this Friday, hoping to come out with the win.

Last February, despite an even spread of event wins between then-No. 2 Cal and then-No. 14 USC, the Trojans defeated the Bears by a meager one point (149.5-148.5). Now-senior Ryan Murphy recorded important wins for Cal in the 100-yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke, as did sophomore Andrew Seliskar, now-graduated Josh Prenot and junior Justin Lynch.

Upon closer inspection, Cal’s loss may not have been due to the swimmers but the lack of a presence from divers, who failed to score any points in either the 1-meter or 3-meter dive.

Although Cal was ranked No. 2 at the time, the men’s swimming and diving head coach, David Durden, argues that the dual meet defeat was not a negative for the Bears’ season.

“That weekend when we went down to LA certainly caught our attention to make sure that we were doing the things necessary moving forward,” Durden said. “I think coming off of that, we had the highs of our season … out in Omaha for the Olympic Trials and certainly at NCAAs where we finished second.”

Even since NCAAs, however, the Bears have come a long way. They have solidified their national first-place rank by destroying the competition in invitationals throughout the fall season and their most recent dual meets in Arizona.

Cal also has benefitted from freshman diver Connor Callahan, whose impressive performance at the Bruin Diving Invitational promises to boost the team in dual meets throughout the season.

Numbers may favor the Bears on Friday, but the USC squad is not to be discounted.

“If I go down the list, they pretty much have a good guy in every single event,” Durden said. “Certainly if they prepare to swim the way they did last year with the group of athletes they have this year, it is going to be hard to beat them.”

For example, Southern California’s redshirt junior Santo Condorelli, who placed fourth in the 100-yard freestyle in Rio, has returned to the Trojan pool after taking a year off to train for the Olympics.

Aside from Condorelli, the Trojans claim multiple swimmers in the top 25 nationally that should be on Cal’s radar. Junior Dylan Carter is the best in the country in the 200-yard freestyle and sophomore Carsten Vissering holds the second fastest time in the 200-yard breaststroke — both swimmers that will be hefty competition for the Bears.

While the Bears can boast a healthier group this Friday than last year, the factor that is going to make the difference in the meet outcome is diving — most namely a great performance by Callahan.

Lucy Schaefer covers men’s swimming. Contact her at [email protected]
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FEBRUARY 01, 2017


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