OK Aquatics nuts......
As typical of our Cal Bears M&W teams, they are not putting up eyebrow -raising times compared to our top competitors (USC, Stanford, Georgia, Michigan, et al). Not to worry, of course, but I have to admit the early times of our top opponents seem daunting---especially Stanford's Mens' team.
Expect to see some better times in the Georgia events, but not the best team showing. Then comes January and dual meets and later PAC 12 Championships.
It looks like it could be like last year which would be great. What is your take?
Stanford looks about as expected. Their backstrokers were good, but that was expected as they went 2-3-4 last year in the 200. Wayne going to be one of the top sprinters, so that's not surprising. Their 500 swimmers were especially fast, maybe a bit faster than expected; they still have a pretty significant hole at breaststroke however. Stanford has the deepest team probably just about every year, but they always lag behind in developing talent compared to Cal and Texas. That might change with a new head coach.
USC has looked very good, but in the past they just haven't had enough guys. Depending on whether the less heralded part of their small roster steps up, they might bring a larger NCAA team this year and challenge. It's always hard to judge the relative competitiveness within teams like USC and Arizona that are always fast in season vs Cal, Texas, Florida, etc. who follow a more predictable progression.
As for the Bears, you can trust that it will all come together for the top guys at NCAAs, for which they will mostly qualify with ease. The question lies in who will fill out the bottom of the 18 man roster, swim on the relays, and maybe give us those last few clinching points. The divers were disappointing this weekend, and I believe transfer DeZwirek is sitting out a year, so it will come down to a few freshmen and Gimondi, who swam at NCAAs last year but wasn't that close to qualifying individually.
Some Thoughts on the Swim Teams
With the caveats that I have neither doped out the 2012 NCAA’s for the top women’s and men’s teams nor ever been a competitive swimmer here are some thoughts about where Cal swimming stands this year.
1. It seems like it will be hard for the Cal women to beat Georgia. While Cal has great freshmen, it lost significant points from the 2012 team. Georgia lost almost nothing, has great frosh and has Allison Schmitt back from a redshirt year. She should be favored in the 100, 200 and 500 free and give Georgia tremendous relay strength. Lest we forget, Schmitt won the 200 free and was outtouched in the 400 meters in London. Georgia’s middle distance strength is unreal. In addition to Schmitt they return Megan Romano who broke Dana Vollmer’s 200 free record at last year’s NCAA and Shannon Vreeland who was on the winning 800 free relay in London (a Cal-Georgia affair with Missy Franklin, Dana Vollmer, Schmitt and Vreeland making up the winning team). But that’s not all. Georgia also has Canadian frosh Brittany Maclean who made the finals in the 400 meter free in London, finishing 7th.
In spite of the forgoing, Swimswam’s Braden Keith who knows swimming in a way I never will, recently had this to say about Cal:
The Cal women are heavy favorites to threepeat as women’s NCAA Championships, and this year I’m not going to let anybody talk me out of it. That which they’ve brought in (Bootsma, Liz Pelton, Acker) easily compensates for that which they’ve lost (Jensen, Isakovic, Raatz). Bootsma with her incredible underwaters would seem to be the cog for this Cal team as she can pop around to any number of positions, and most importantly should be the key to holding over the free relays (along with Acker) while they wait for mega-sprinters Missy Franklin and Kristen Vredeveld to come in next season.
But he is also high on Georgia:
Ok, I might let a persuasive Georgia fan talk me out of making Cal a stone-cold lock. After all, they were only about 45 points behind Cal at last year’s NCAA Championships, and Allison Schmitt is worth easily 45 points. She should be top three at NCAA’s in the 100 free, the 200 free, and the 500 free, which will add up to over 50 points; even more than that, though, she will fill some important spot on the medley. That might be as the butterflier, though more likely it will be in the form of sliding Megan Romano to a backstroke leadoff (she anchored last year). If those medleys can go from 10th-place finishers to high A-finalists (top 5), then the Bulldogs can make a claim to the titles.
2. For the men, I had thought Cal would be favored since they have many more returning points than any other team. But I don’t know which frosh on the various top programs are NCAA meet ready. Also, it’s pretty clear that Texas and Stanford underperformed in last year’s meet and may have learned something from that experience. Cal also has some eligibility questions to work out.
After the 2012 NCAA’s Braden Keith Wrote an article headed “Very Early Look at 2013 NCAA’s”. It may have limited relevance now but here’s what he wrote about the top 3 teams. The text at the top of each profile are the number of returning points from last year’s NCAA’s:
133.5 + 11 relays – Texas
41.85% of individual points returning
Texas had a big window to win the NCAA Title last year that won’t be open again next year, as they lose more than any other team in the top 10. And it’s not just that they graduated a lot of swimmers, it’s who they graduated. They lose double-National-Champion Jimmy Feigen, they lose the guy who is by far their best butterflier in Tripp Cooper, a four-time Big 12 mile champion Jackson Wilcox…and they lost 81 diving points that were a big ace-in-their-holes. The saving grace for the Longhorns is that their recruiting class from last year, including names like Tripp Cooper and Jake Ritter, was better beyond the top two (Clay Youngquist and Kip Darmody) than expected, and could be ready to absorb some of the loss quicker than expected. It’s also Dax’s time to shine as the big-man-on-campus for this team. They bring in John Murray who was a good recruit and has raised his stock even further since signing, as well as the aforementioned Weir, who is a 19.8 50 freestyler and 44.0 100 freestyler.
185 + 13 relays – Stanford
65.95% of individual points returning
Cal’s freshman class last year made a huge impact in the relays, but Stanford still had the highest-scoring class in terms of individuals with 116 points. And that was without any points from some of their top recruits like Jack Lane and Jonathan Edwards, who should both score next year. They again bring in a top-two recruiting class in the country with names like Tom Kremer, Danny Thomson, and Sean Duggan. On top of that is former wunderkind Gray Umbach who plateau’d for a few years, but this past year really kicked back into overdrive, and broke the Texas State Record in the 100 fly. They’ve lost American Record holder Chad la Tourette and Bobby Bollier, though Bollier wasn’t a huge scorer during his senior year (certainly not as much as his junior season). But the freshmen class should make a big leap for their sophomore years, and Aaron Wayne will be back for one more year as one of the best sprinters in the country.
244.5 + 16 relays – Cal
68.97% of individual points returning
Cal not only returns the most individual points next year, and the most relay swimmers, of the teams on this list, they get way richer. With Josh Prenot and Jacob Pebley as part of their monster recruiting class, they have probably the two most NCAA-ready of the American recruits. They graduate half of their medley relays (Matias Gydesen and Nolan Koon), but like clockwork another great senior breaststroker Trevor Hoyt slides in, while Prenot and sophomore continue to develop and gets ready to take over that spot in 2014. They add another sprinter in Nick Dillinger (not that they need another one of those – but it could relieve a lot of pressure off of Tom Shields). And lest we forget, they will add Auburn transfer Tony Cox who in 2011 was an NCAA A-Finalist in the 100 back and has B-Final potential in the 100 fly too. If he can take over backstroke duties on the 400 medley, and Shields then slides back to fly, then suddenly these Cal medleys, despite graduations, are about as good as they were this past season.
We’ll dig more into the teams this summer after recruiting classes are more nailed-down, but for now I’d say that Cal is the favorites to repeat as national champions, and I think everyone else is probably going to have the same pick.
Thanks for your great analysis.
Cal men appear favorites but Georgia looks to be too strong in women's competition but Terri isn't to be discounted.
Yes thank you. Its nice to get away from the garbage that is permeating the football board right now and talk about many of our numerous other successful athletic programs. The odds are stacked against us but never underestimate the hearts of champions. Though young and inexperienced, the talent of our kids and the brilliance of our coaches will lead the way!
What are the eligibility questions for MS?
Originally Posted by santacruzbear
Tony Cox (All-American transfer from Auburn) and Tyler Messerschmidt (AA sprinter) are academically ineligible this semester. Columbia transfer Dezwirek, who may or may not have factored at NCAAs, has yet to swim and may be ineligible due to transfer rules, I'm not sure. A couple other guys just quit swimming.
[QUOTE=BRBear;842018129]Tony Cox (All-American transfer from Auburn) and Tyler Messerschmidt (AA sprinter) are academically ineligible this semester. Columbia transfer Dezwirek, who may or may not have factored at NCAAs, has yet to swim and may be ineligible due to transfer rules, I'm not sure. A couple other guys just quit swimming.[/QUOTE
I hope Cox and Messerschmidt are on track to return this next term, but I have no information one way or the other. Are they allowed to practice during this period? Messerschmidt is a key member on the Bear relays. Cox was a top backstroker two years ago but I have no clue if he can return to form.
In addition to the eligibility issue raised it also appears that a couple of bears may be dealing with injury issues. So, with Cox and Messerschmidt ineligible, Stubblefield and Pebley missing meets, and Tom Shields swimming overseas it really is difficult getting a handle on the 2012/2013 Bears and their prospects in March.
If Messerschmidt and Cox return and can get up to speed, and if the rest of the squad can get and stay healthy I think the men have a slightly easier road to three-peat compared to the women. Coach McKeever hasn't yet found a sprinter to replace Liv Jensen and Georgia looks pretty solid. Texas A&M and USC have also turned in some very fast early times.
The men lost at least three studs in Gydesen, Liivamaggi and Koon, but frosh Prenot, Pebley, Dillinger et al should offset the losses, and the team has Shields, Tarczynski,Hoyt, Hamilton and a bevy of sprinters returning. THe men's major challengers are likely to be Texas and Stanford, but USC and Michigan should be in the mix as well.