Cal makes push on Day three of 2016 Pac-12 Men's Swimming Championships
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - They may be two spots out of the lead, but on Friday night the pool belonged to Cal.
The Bears won four of the six events and made the podium in five of them. And some core young swimmers helped them move from fourth place into third.
Freshman Andrew Seliskar led off the night with a win in the 400-yard individual medley, and sophomore Justin Lynch took home the 100-yard butterfly.
Perhaps most impressive, though, was Connor Hoppe’s win in the 100-yard breaststroke. Hoppe, seeded seventh in the final heat, finished with the win and his personal best time of 51.86.
“I just wanted to race and have a fun time, and enjoy the moment,” Hoppe was all smiles after the meet. “I wasn’t really expecting to win, I was just trying to do the best I can for my team. I was really excited that I won.”
Did the lower seeding help him?
“I didn’t really feel a lot of pressure because I was seeded seventh. Just going in, I was trying to just focus on having the best race that I possibly could, and I think I did that tonight.”
Seliskar, Lynch, and Hoppe combined with Long Gutierrez to also win the 4x100 medley relay to close out the night. Seliskar filled in leading off with the backstroke, not an event that he’s overly familiar with. His teammates, however, had his back.
“We just told Andrew, ‘Give it all you got, that’s all you can do,'" Lynch explained. "We might be a little behind, but that’s not on him. It’s up to us. I was telling Hoppe behind the blocks, ‘This is us. We can come back from this.’ And he delivered.”
Apart from all the wins for Cal, Gutierrez and Trent Williams finished second and third in the 200-yard freestyle for the Bears.
Lynch says the podium surge wasn’t intentional.
“All the nights are the same. We were coming in to win events, so the attitude wasn’t any different from last night, it was just – we were moving more towards secondary and primary events, so you know, everyone was a little more excited for tonight. I think that’s what got it going.”
“[Coach Durden] told us to have a relentless pursuit of the process, and I think each guy just wanted to do the job the best that they possibly could and move up spots…That mentality combined with also having fun.”
It was a strong night, but the Bears still sit in third place, behind Stanford and USC, with 390 points. Can Cal use the momentum from Friday night to take the Pac-12 title on Saturday?
“We’re in a good spot right now, mentally and physically,” Lynch said. “We moved some guys around in different events just to maximize our scoring opportunities. If we just do what we did, come in with the same mindset, we’re gonna do well.”