2017 Pac-12 Swimming (M) Championships: Cal's week looking promising after day one sweep
It was an all-Cal beginning to the 2017 Pac-12 Men's Swimming Championships in Federal Way, perhaps a foreshadowing of the week to come.
The Bears set two new Pac-12 Championship records in day one's events.
With a gaggle of fans cheering loud from the bleachers, the two relay teams--both featuring Olympian Ryan Murphy--captured the 200 medley relay and 800 free relay titles.
"I think the first night is a good night to get out the jitters," said Murphy. "Kind of get into the meet and I think we started off pretty strong, could be a little bit better in some places but I think we're just going to improve as the meet goes on."
Murphy may have given his team the extra boost needed in day one's events; Arizona came in next in the 200 relay just over a second later, clocking in at 1:23.34, and Stanford was following closely with a 1:23.62 finish. The Bears finished the 800 free in 6:12.22 with a solid lead over rival Stanford (6:15.09).
But the two races also displayed Cal's depth, the kind that makes the Bears a favorite to win this year's Pac-12 title. The two races alone featured last-years Pac-12 Championship swimmer of the meet Andrew Seliskar (200 medley), 2016 Olympic qualifier Long Gutierrez (800 free), and Pawel Sendyk, a freshman from Poland who claimed silver and bronze medals at the 2015 European games-- to name a few.
With the first day behind them, the Bears can feel momentum already shifting their way.
"Fourth time here, and just seeing that relay, that first one always gets you pumped," said Gutierrez. "So just going into that, our relay was just amazing, and Murph coming back off of that relay was just a great feeling."
The Bears finished the season undefeated (5-0), giving them a major boost coming into the championship after a third place finish last year.
"All of us have been putting in the work, we've been showing good signs of being a lot faster than last year," said junior Justin Lynch, who swam the butterfly in the 200 medley. "It wasn't too much of a surprise, it was just about making it happen."
"We were very confident coming into the race," said junior Connor Hoppe, who swam the breaststroke in the 200. "I think that was the mindset for all of us was just to have fun and that's exactly what we did."