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Back in September ranked the top members of the class of 2022 who had yet to make their college decision, with Matthew Chai sitting firmly in the 10th position. Almost three months later, he has now made his decision, opting to stay in the state of California and become a Cal Golden Bear. Chai currently lives in La Habra Heights, California where he swims for Fullerton Aquatic Sports Team and Diamon Bar High School.
Chai has already been off to a strong start this fall, posting lifetime best in numerous events at the Kevin B. Pery Senior Invitational. Chai had a huge meet, taking nearly six seconds off of his previous best in the 500 free while racing the #2 recruit in the class of 2023, Rex Maurer. Chai led for most of that race before Maurer out split him across the final 100. For Chai, his final time of 4:17.62 now ranks him as the fastest athlete in the event in the recruiting class of 2022. He also added a 19-second drop in 1000 free, touching in 8:55.79 to best Maurer by 12 seconds.
Back in June, Chai raced both the 800 and 1500 freestyles at Wave 2 of the US Olympic Trials. While he was off from his best times in both events, his time of 15:48.93 was fast enough to earn him 26th in the event. His best time of 15:39.65 in the race would have been good enough to earn him 22nd. He took 43rd in the 800 in 8:18.80.
Best SCY Times
- 200 free – 1:39.29
- 500 free – 4:17.62
- 1000 free – 8:55.87
- 1650 free – 15:02.84
Chai will be a huge addition to the Golden Bear’s distance group when he arrives on campus next fall. During the 2020-21 season, Cal claimed the Pac-12 title before finishing as the runner-up in a tight battle with Texas at the NCAA Championships. Last season the team was led by a trio in of distance swimmers, Trenton Julian, Zachary Yeadon, and Sean Grieshop. With Yeadon already gone and the other two using their fifth year of eligibility this season, Chai will be a key part of a rebuilding distance group.
Even with his current times, Chai isn’t far off from NCAA scoring range and could be contributing points for Cal as soon as next season. Last year in the 500 it took a 4:14.10 to make it to finals at the NCAA Championships. In the 1650, 16th place at the meet was a 14:51.36. Grieshop took 14th in that even, touching in 14:48.98.
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