Cal coach Dave Durden has received two more verbal commitments in the class of 2012 to continue to fill out his freestyle groups.
The first was Sam Shimomura from the Santa Clara Swim Club. Shimomura is the latest in a noticable paradigm shift with this class, where more focus has been put on distance recruiting than Durden has in his entire tenure at Cal. This is the latest in a line of high-profile distance recruits – including most recently Jameson Lyon – for the Cal program, and Smiomura is as good, and as specialized, as any of them.
Shimomura has bests of 1:37.9 in the 200 free, 4:25.1 in the 500 free, and 15:24.8 in the mile, all of which were done this year. He continues to make monumental leaps in his swimming (even coming out of the polyurethane suit era) and between his sophomore and junior years, he cut 6 seconds off of his 500 time and 22 off of his mile time. If his performance in long course (he placed 5th at Jr. Nationals in the 800 free) are any indicator, he’s nowhere near ready to slow down his improvements and progression. By the time Shimomura gets to Berkeley, he could already be showing NCAA B-final worthy times (I think he easily qualifies for the big meet as a freshman), and should also help add to the 800 free relay that has gone from Cal’s weakest to among their strongest.
As an aside, one wonders if Shimomura might project, in the long-haul, as an open-water swimmer. He’s got that same distance-freestyle ultra-specialty that you see in other big-time distance swimmers like Alex Meyer, Ashley Twichell and Sean Ryan.
Just as you thought Cal might be turning into a full-time distance school, they snapped everyone back to attention with a verbal commitment from Nick Dillinger, who collegeswimming.com ranks as their #12 recruit in the nation.
Though Dillinger is extremely versatile (he seems to have the skill-set to be a distance freestyler if he wanted to), the sprints are where his home is at. Dillinger’s 20.21 in the 50 free is ranked top (domestically) in the class, as does his 44.19 in the 100 free.
As for that versatility we spoke of, he goes a 1:37.6 (top 5 in the class) in the 200 free, a 4:28 in the 500 free, a 49.4 in the 100 fly, and a 1:51 in the 100 IM.
But at the end of the day, it will all come back to those sprint freestyles. He made a huge leap in times when he first got into high school, and since then has had a more steady improvement. Still, it was a consistent improvement, and he should be in the 19-second range in his 50 free and at least a 43.5 in his 100 by the time he graduates.
And all of this is while hailing from the state of Wyoming and the Gillette Swim Team. Thinking back through other big swimmers to come out of Wyoming, and only one comes off the top of my head, which is former US National teamer Kristen Heiss.
Dillinger does have the advantage of having trained at the nicest pool in Wyoming: the 50-meter, 10-lane Campbell County Schools Aquatic Center, complete with all of the bells and whistles (including full-color video board). It’s the only long-course pool currently in the state. Casper is thinking about building one; Unless you count Pinedale (population 1,400) that infamously built one a few years ago, but didn’t account for the bulkhead and are left with the world’s nicest 47.5 meter pool.