After Olympic gold medalist Ricky Berens took ill and had to pull out of the Tiburon Sprint Classic, to be held tomorrow in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cal senior Tom Shields jumped in as an emergency replacement – not a bad second option in an all out yards-race.
Shields will join a field that includes Josh Schneider, Anthony Ervin, Fred Bousquet, and Jimmy Feigen.
Shields is a bit of an odd duck in this race. He has never been better than a 20.56 on a flat-start, but anybody who saw this guy dominate the NCAA Championships last year knows that he’s capable of way faster than that. Heck, he split a 19.80 in his 50 fly on the 200 medley relay at NCAA’s in 2012; two years ago, as a sophomore in college, he split a 18.70 to anchor Cal’s 200 free relay.
Shields has absolutely incredible underwaters; this early season challenge will give us a chance to see how well they’ve survived the summer. This won’t be much out-of-the-way for Shields; Cal usually brings a large group to compete in the Open Water portion of this event (to be held Sunday) anyway, and Tiburon is only about 45 minutes across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge from Berkeley.
First round matchups will be drawn immediately before the racing kicks off at 3PM Pacific Time Saturday, with the top two of the 8 swimmers going to a head-to-head final in the two-lane pool.