Ryan Kao Verbally Commits to Cal

Ryan Kao from La Mirada Armada and Kennedy High School in Southeastern Los Angeles (near Fullerton and Anaheim) has verbally committed to Cal.

Kao is one of the best male middle-to-distance freestylers in the class of 2014, though he’s not limited in versatility to just the freestyle races.

His best yards times:

  • 200 free – 1:36.76
  • 500 free – 4:20.28
  • 1000 free – 9:13.21
  • 1650 free – 15:21.56
  • 100 back – 50.66
  • 200 back – 1:50.08 (as a high school freshman)
  • 200 fly – 1:49.02
  • 200 IM – 1:51.49
  • 400 IM – 3:58.96

Kao is the third-ranked 500 freestyler in the class of 2014, just a few tenths behind Virginian Henry Campbell and Texas commit Jonathan Roberts. That 500, as well as the 200 yard free, are Kao’s most exciting times. Cal was 4th at NCAA’s in the 800 free relay, but graduated half of that relay.

They could, though, rebuild in a hurry: between current freshmen Ryan Murphy, Sven Campbell, and Long Gutierrez, the Golden Bears have a lot of pieces to play with for their relay of the future.

Further, in the Pac-12 Conference where distance swimmers can really put up some inflated point totals at the conference level, Kao could be a huge, immediate contributor. Though of course Cal is more concerned about winning national than conference titles, for the first time in over 30 years last season they won the Pac-12, despite Stanford putting up a relative dominance in the distance events (including three of the top five milers).

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ED Cal Fan

Ryan will be a great addition to the Cal Team!! Congratulations and good luck! Go Bears!


much needed distance swimmer! great get for cal.


Really? Cal doesn’t have a history of racing their distance guys. They have 4 potential scorers right now, and will already have 3 when Bagshaw graduates this year. At Pac-12s they only event Cal didn’t have a guy on the podium was the 1650 – they entered Lyon as an exhibition only swimmer, even though he could have scored in the 500 (results say he had the 6th fastest time) and he went sub-15 in the mile (and had the 3rd fastest time at the meet). He got scratched from the NC roster I guess in favor of a diver. That tells me they figure they don’t need distance points, so unless Kao stays competitive in the 200 to be… Read more »


No argument about your point. Having a few super star sprinters on your team can be a tremendous boost to your score in the ncaa. But I don’t think you can ignore distance events either. Same goes for diving. Last time Texas took the title away from Cal, it came down to diving points. Last time Michigan took the title away from Cal, it came down to distance points. Michigan scored 57 points JUST in the 1650. Cal had 0 points in that event even though Bagshaw put up a nice time. In the 500 event, michigan went 36 – 8 against cal.

My point is, I’m glad that we got Kao.


Now they have to do a better job with the distance recruits they sign…not just sign them but develop them!


I think that’s what they hired Coach Yuri for, and he seems to be doing a good job with the distance guys. Maybe this is a sign that Cal is beginning to see value in a distance program for their team.


Wrong. Cal also didn’t have anyone on the podium in the 50 free at PAC 12. Vlad -USC, Wagner-USC, Soedel-Utah.


I stand corrected. There was a tie for 3rd between Stubblefield-Cal and Soedel-Utah in the 50. My apologies to Cal.

Joel Lin

Momo’s comment is telling for the new NCAA calculus since the sprint relays were added. Imagine the assertion that Caleb Dressel is a higher value recruit than Carey or Piersol back in the day — who were both Olympians in high school — but is true. He is a store bought 53-60 individual point guy in the correct events 50, 100, 200 free & sprint fly, which optimizes the relay parlay. He’s the most valuable recruit in history.


Yup, you get it, Joel. Doesn’t speak much to the way things are now though, does it? Here’s an idea – how about if all of these programs just send everyone else home except the Dressels, the Congers, the Murphys, etc. and each team can have just one guy to do all the events? I guess it would certainly make the ADs and the NCAA happy, as they can spend almost no money on mens’ swimming and diving and there is even more money to be spent on football, basketball and the other “revenue” sports.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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