After pulling away with a resounding win in its first meet of the season against Virginia, Cal men’s swim and dive look to find home away from home in its two upcoming tournaments this week. Half of the team will travel to Salt Lake City to face Utah at the Ute Natatorium on Friday, Oct. 22, while the other half will make the trip to Stockton to compete in the Pacific Invite on Saturday, Oct. 23.
The Bears walk into this weekend with confidence, conviction and precedent. They come off of a stellar performance at the Tokyo Summer Olympics: Led by Cal head coach David Durden, the U.S. Olympic men’s swimming team earned a total of 12 medals, four of which were claimed by blue and gold athletes. All four belong to Cal alumni: Ryan Murphy took home one gold, one silver and one bronze, while Tom Shields found gold in 4×100-meter medley relay. Of the eight Bears who attended the Olympics, three are returners to the program: Hugo González, Robin Hanson and Björn Seeliger.
The team also boasts decorated veterans Daniel Carr, Sean Grieshop and Trenton Julian, who all elected to compete collegiately for a fifth year in the NCAA. The trio shares an impressive history — combined, it holds 19 Pac-12 titles and 46 All-America certificates and has led Cal to four consecutive Pac-12 conference championship titles.
At Utah, the Bears hope to keep their three-year undefeated season streak untarnished. Cal also aims to maintain its 15 dual meet win streak stemming back to Feb. 17, 2018. Under Durden, the team has only lost 11 of 89 dual meets.
The last time Utah and Cal met was during the 2018-19 season when Cal had a convincing 191-100 win over the Utes. This time around, Utah is looking for more than just revenge: It seeks its first win of the season after its disappointing performance against Stanford on Friday.
Despite their best efforts, the Utes lost 104-191 to the Cardinals, always falling to second or third place in individual and team events. The first win of the day came during the 18th event, where junior Finn O’hAimhirgin beat Stanford’s Mason Gonzalez by less than a second in the 100 yard free. This tough loss follows a rough couple of seasons for the Utes — in the past two years, their winning percentage sits at a mere 0.500 with five wins and five losses. Though Utah may aim high and hold out hope for this Friday, it is unlikely that Cal will falter, misstep and give the Utes a strike in the win column.
The Pacific Invite may give the Bears more of a challenge than Utah, but Cal will only be at Chris Kjeldsen Aquatics for half of the tournament, only competing Oct. 23.