Top men's swimmers converge for Pac-12 Championships
With four Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 15 in the Feb. 5 College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) poll, the 2014 Pac-12 Men’s Swimming Championships are shaping up to be as competitive as ever. Several Olympians and national team members are in the field, and the meet will continue to showcase some of the top swimmers in the world. The championships will take place March 5-8 in Federal Way, Wash. at the Weyerhauser King County Aquatic Center.
Third-ranked CALIFORNIA took home the championship last year for the first time in more than thirty years, and the 2014 season has seen the Bears continue their domination. Cal finished the season undefeated in dual meets, posting an 8-0 record that extends the Bears’ win streak to 15-straight dual wins. The Bears enter the Championships with key victories over USC and Arizona, both of which are ranked in the top 15 in the CSCAA poll. Cal returns standout swimmers Marcin Tarczynski, Josh Prenot and Seth Stubblefield, all of whom placed in the top three in their respective events at last year’s Pac-12 Championships.
Tied for fourth in the CSCAA poll, USC enters the Championships with a 4-2 overall dual record, including a close victory over Utah in the newly opened Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The Trojans’ lone losses came to Cal and Stanford this season, and each meet has seen both opponents score at least 100 points. Senior standouts Cristian Quintero, Dimitri Colupaev and Jack Wagner will have one last chance to defend their Pac-12 titles, as Quintero went home with two individual victories and all three were part of the winning 400 free relay team from last year’s Conference championships.
No. 8 STANFORD fell just short of a perfect regular season, with the only loss coming at the end of the year to rival California. The Cardinal looks for revenge against Cal, who beat Stanford by a mere 25 points last year to take home the Conference championship and break Stanford's streak of 31-straight Pac-12 titles. Stanford returns key swimmers in juniors Drew Cosgarea and Dave Nolan, who both took home individual championships in last year’s competition. Nolan also won national titles in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke at the NCAA Championships last year.
No. 12 ARIZONA is led by junior Kevin Cordes, an eight-time All-American and the reigning NCAA Champion in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, in which he set national records, as well as part of the national-champion 400 medley relay. The junior, who has swept the Pac-12 Men’s Swimmer of the Month awards for the season so far, currently holds the nation’s top times in both the 100 and 200 breast. He will team up with other top swimmers in junior Giles Smith, who owns the nation’s fastest time in the 100 fly, and senior Mitchell Friedmann, who has the top time in the 100 back. In addition, the Wildcats currently have the top time nationally in the 400 medley relay.
Led by senior Alex Coci, a 2012 Olympian and current school record holder in the 100 and 200 fly, ARIZONA STATE looks to perform better at the Pac-12 Championships than during the regular season. The Sun Devils were winless against Conference foes in dual meets, despite multiple individual victories from Coci as well as teammates Thibeaut Capitaine and Barkley Perry. Captaine holds school records of his own in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, while freshman Perry has made a name for himself with first-place finishes in freestyle and backstroke events.
UC SANTA BARBARA finished with a 6-2 dual meet, with their lone Pac-12 matchup resulting in a loss against Stanford. Senior freestyle specialist Ryan Hanni, who notched multiple individual victories in the 50 and 100 free over the course of the year, is poised to lead an experienced roster that includes versatile junior Wade Allen and sophomore breaststroke specialist Andy Castilleja.
Sophomore Sonny Fierro, who set multiple school records this season, will lead CAL POLY’s young roster into the Pac-12 Championships. Other notable swimmers include fellow sophomore Mickey Mackle and senior Adrian Brynnel, both of whom earned points for the Mustangs at last year’s Conference championship event.