Spanish record holder Hugo Gonzalez intends to head back to the United States and resume school and swimming in the NCAA. Gonzalez spent the 2017-18 season, his freshman season, with Auburn, but since left for Virginia Tech, where he stayed for a few weeks and then went home to Spain.
News site El Pais reports that Gonzalez has applied to both Cal-Berkeley and the University of Florida, where he hopes to start taking classes in January for the next semester. El Pais also hints that Cal would be his top choice.
In June of 2018, the former Auburn swimmer had been announced as a transfer to Virginia Tech, where he’d assumedly finish out his three remaining seasons of eligibility and follow his coach Sergio Lopez, who left his associate head coach role at Auburn for a head coach position at VT. Just a few weeks into his first semester at VT, however, Gonzalez left the school and returned to Spain, with it being unclear if he was planning on ever swimming or taking courses in the U.S. again.
Now, though, Gonzalez says that he’s waiting to hear back from Cal and Florida to potentially start studies in January, though it’s unclear yet if, should he be accepted and can start taking classes in January, he will be swimming as soon as next semester.
Either school would be very excited to have Gonzalez on their roster, considering his best times. He was 3:35.76 to win the 2018 SEC title last year and 1:40.67 for 2nd behind only Caeleb Dressel in the 200 IM at SECs, while he’s also a phenomenal backstroker (46.24/1:39.05 in SCY, 54.1/1:56.6 in LCM) and breaststroker (1:53.98 in the 200y). Additionally, he was 47.12 fly and 1:34.79 free last February at the Auburn Invite, which happened two weeks before SECs.
For Cal, should this all work out, this could be the boost they need to push them past Texas. It’s inevitably going to be a very close meet again, but having a star like Gonzalez on the roster may just be enough to hold off the Longhorns’ diving points. Additionally, should Gonzalez contest the 400 IM (very likely), that could give Andrew Seliskar more assurance to do the 200 free, where he is a probable bet for 2nd place and a potential upset to the favorite Townley Haas of Texas.
That said, Gonzalez gained time in all of his events (including over ten seconds in the 400 IM) at NCAAs last season, though he did still score in the 200 IM B final. Additionally, Gonzalez had the 2018 Spanish National Champs just a few weeks after NCAAs, where he won the 200 IM title and set a new Spanish record with a 1:58.03 in LCM; perhaps he was saving his peak for that meet, which was a qualifier for 2018 Euros.
In any case, Gonzalez is seeking to finish his undergrad education at either Cal or Florida, with his eyes set on the Berkeley. As to when he’ll be able to compete, should he get accepted, it’s fuzzy. He transferred from SEC school Auburn to ACC school VT, but ended up leaving. His transfer to Cal, a Pac-12 school, doesn’t seem to pose an issue, but he may potentially see some sort of penalty if he ends up at Florida, an SEC school like Auburn. It gets tricky, though, when considering he last competed for an SEC school, but last attended an ACC school (for a very short amount of time). Regardless, SwimSwam has asked for clarification and will update this article with any further insight.