Just like water, time is fluid. Time trickles and rushes, stretches and compresses to fill its own space. It’s a universal truth: A 10-minute nap passes much faster than the last 10 minutes of your Friday afternoon class. Time ticks along at its own pace. Try as we might, we cannot control its current.
This is not the case, however, for competitive swimmers. In the pool, time becomes an indisputable fact, and every millisecond counts.
On Friday and Saturday, time was in the blue and gold’s favor. In Cal’s first scored meet of the season, the Bears managed to beat the USC Trojans 107-76, showing strong improvements and promise in the process.
Friday opened with a 400-meter medley relay victory by Destin Lasco, Reece Whitley, Ryan Hoffer and Björn Seeliger. Their time of 3 minutes, 8.9 seconds happens to be the ninth-fastest in the country this season. The Bears claimed victory in five of six individual events, including a sweep in the 1,000 free by Zach Yeadon (8:59.80), Sean Grieshop (9:10.08) and Tyler Kopp (9:18.89). Tyler Wesson was the only diver from Cal to compete, and he claimed a second-place finish in the 3-meter dive.
But the standout performance Friday belonged to Seeliger, Hoffer, Nate Biondi and Bryce Mefford in the 200 free relay. So far this season, their NCAA qualifying time of 1:16.63 is the third-fastest in the country and the fastest on record at the Spieker Aquatics Complex.
As the sun set Friday, Cal was in the lead 101-63.
The Bears kicked off Saturday’s events at noon with a stellar performance in the 200 medley relay as Daniel Carr, Whitley, Hoffer and Seeliger came in first with a time of 1:24.62. The quartet shaved 0.19 seconds off of its best time from 2019 — an amount of time barely discernible to the naked eye. Regardless, any improvements are cause for Cal fans to celebrate, especially improvements that come in the wake of such a grueling year in the athletic world.
Saturday’s second event, the 500-yard freestyle, also went well for the blue and gold, who secured the top three places with time to spare. Yeadon came in first with a time of 4:22:21, followed closely by his teammates Grieshop (4:23.07) and Dare Rose (4:26.99).
While the third event, the 100-yard butterfly, went in favor of USC, Cal showed up strong during the fourth event, the 200-yard breaststroke. Standout performer Whitley dominated with a 1:53.75, and the No. 2 spot belonged to Hugo González with a 1:58.38. Carr glided into first place in the 200 backstroke (1:43.23), and Seeliger edged out his opponents in the 50-yard free, finishing in 19.42 seconds.
The blue and gold finished how they began, displaying a strong performance in the relay. Hoffer, Carr, Lasco and Seeliger pooled their talent to snag a win in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 2:50.09, smashing the previous record (2:52.87 from 2005) by nearly three seconds and crystalizing the Bears’ victory over the Trojans.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to time; victory belongs to the swimmer who taps the wall first. If Cal can continue to turn the tides of time in its favor, the rest of the season should go swimmingly for the Bears.