As the Cal men finally get into the real meat of their season, their Pac 12 dual meet schedule in the run-up to the Pac 12 Championships in early March, they topped their first major opponent, Arizona, 159.134 in Tucson. That included a Cal exhibition on the last two events of the meet.
Cal, just as they lost one big star (Tyler Messerschmidt) are getting another in (former Auburn All-American) Tony Cox, who is officially on the Bears’ roster and beginning competition. He led off Cal’s 200 medley relay that swam a 1:27.59. Wearing just briefs, that’s a phenomenal time. The winning quartet was Cox (22.72), Trevor Hoyt (25.09), Tom Shields (20.10), and Shayne Fleming (19.68). Though Cox’s addition makes this relay really good, Shields’ split was the most notable. Keep in mind that the number of men who have split under 20 seconds on the butterfly leg of a 200 medley relay can be counted on one hand (including Shields himself), and he just almost did it on the road, outdoors, in training. This relay is actually a two-swimmer switch from their 5th-ranked 200 medley relay that had included Marcin Tarczynski and Seth Stubblefield on the backstroke and butterfly legs instead.
Cal, who has really done a lot of work in the last few years under Dave Durden to beef up their distance group, went 1-3 in the men’s 1000 free, led by Jeremy Bagshaw in a 9:17.06. That’s the 15th-best time of the spring semester (notable as being after the winter taper meets). He followed that with a win in the 500 free as well, where he swam a 4:27.06, followed by a 4:28.46 from his teammate Adam Hinshaw.
Cal actually swept all of the freestyle races but one in this meet, including a 44.5 from sophomore Seth Stubblefield who is coming back from an early-season injury.
The one freestyle race won by Arizona was their star, Giles Smith, in 20.28. This is the one obvious hole in the Cal lineup after Messerschmidt’s loss, though they did take 2nd with freshman Nick Dillinger (20.64) and 3rd with Shayne Fleming (20.85). Fleming didn’t have his best swim in that race (he was much better in the meet-opening relay), nor did Fabio Gimondi, but that potential 200 free relay probably is the biggest challenge for Cal going toward March.
In the best head-to-head battle of the meet, Tom Shields topped Giles Smith in the men’s 100 fly 46.54-47.82, a relatively wide margin. Those two are the defending gold and silver medalists in this race from last year’s NCAA Championship meet.
Cal also picked up three wins from their two top freshmen, Josh Prenot and Jacob Pebley. Prenot, who in his rookie season is already in contention for national titles, won the 200 breaststroke in 1:59.68, taking out two of the best in the country in Carl Mickelson (1:59.75). This was a great back-and-forth battle between the two and third-place finisher Kevin Cordes, the American Record holder, but Prenot was able to hold off the two Wildcats at the very last touch. Cordes was 3rd in 2:00.05.
Cordes would win the 100 in 54.55.
Cal won the meet-closing 400 free relay, which thus far looks to be better than the shorter 200 will be, with a 2:57.27. Shields anchored in 43.39 with Dillinger and Stubblefield each leading into that with 44-lows.
Arizona will welcome in Stanford on Saturday, as Cal travels just north to Tempe to take on Arizona State.