Competitor Coach of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition. As with any item of recognition, Competitor Coach of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one coach whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a coach who was clearly in the limelight, or one whose work fell through the cracks a bit more among other stories. If your favorite coach wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
California Aquatics brought 23 men to the U.S. National Championships. And coach Dave Durden helped 18 of them earn finals swims and 13 Cal swimmers make some sort of major international travel team for Team USA.
It starts at the top, where the stars were brilliant. Ryan Murphy was in the mix for overall Swimmer of the Meet, setting an American record in the 50 back and sweeping the 50, 100 and 200 backs. Josh Prenot returned from a disappointing 2017 to win the 200 breast. Andrew Seliskar finally broke through with a gutsy national title in the 200 free. Nathan Adrian was second in a very close 100 free final. All four earned trips to Pan Pacs along with Jacob Pebley (who was second only to Murphy in the 200 back) and Sean Grieshop (who had been without a long course best time in primary event since 2016, but smashed his way through the plateau for 3rd in the 400 IM).
And while 2019 travel teams are still somewhat in flux, Cal put six more in contention for those roles. Trenton Julian should be a lock for World University Games in the 200 fly (Julian was actually competing for Roe Bowl Aquatics, but just finished up a stellar freshman college season under Durden). So should Grieshop (400 IM) and Nick Norman (800 free, 1500 free). Bryce Mefford (200 back) and Michael Jensen (50 free) are likely to join them. Then Daniel Carr, Tom Shields and Matthew Josa are likely to make the Pan American Games team.
Beyond that baker’s dozen, three more Cal Aquatics swimmers made national A or B finals. Connor Hoppe was 5th in the 50 breast and 9th in the 100. Justin Lynch was 11th in the 50 fly and 10th in the 100. David Puczkowski was 9th in the 50 back. Mike Thomas was 12th in the 200 fly. And then Ryan Hoffer (24th in the 100 fly) and Carson Sand (24th in the 100 breast) made C finals.
As a whole, Durden’s crew had the finest showing of any club at Nationals – and they’ll get plenty more opportunities to step up over the next two summers.
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