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Cal Men's Swimming Wins Second Consecutive National Championship

March 26, 2023
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MINNEAPOLIS – In a testament to its depth and talent, the California men’s swimming & diving team had multiple athletes score multiple points as the Golden Bears secured the program’s eighth national championship on Saturday evening at the Jean K. Freeman Aquatica Center. Cal finished the meet with 482 points with one individual champion - sophomore Destin Lasco in the 200-yard backstroke.

Cal has finished among the top two teams at the NCAA Championships each of the past 13 years. This year’s championship is the sixth for head coach David Durden. The other titles came in 2011, ’12, ’14, ’19, and ’22. The Bears also claimed championships in 1979 and 1980.

“It was an interesting meet. We didn’t have a lot of highlights,” Durden said. “We were setting internal highlights, setting school records right and left. But we weren’t winning events - which is great, it’s a team meet and so we just went out trying to garner points. A majority of the points were spread out amongst six teams which makes it exciting for the fans. I’m so appreciative of this group and handling themselves and handling our program and understanding that this is only about this year but it is about the legacy of Cal Aquatics. They get that. They understand that and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of that.”

The first points of the evening were not scored by a swimmer. For the first since 2008, a Cal diver scored points. Freshman Joshua Thai advanced to the consolation final in the platform dive and finished in 14th with a score of 347.85. He is the first Golden Bear diver to earn All-American honors since Sam Helvie finished 13th in the 3-meter dive at the 2008 NCAA Championships.

In the timed finals for the 1650 freestyle, Lucas Henveaux was brilliant down the stretch en route to a ninth-place finish. He opened his heat in seventh place and slowly began climbing his way through the pack. His final 50 split of 25.98 had him finish his heat in second with a time of 14:44.14 – the fifth fastest time in program history and four seconds faster than his seed time.

Heading into the 200 backstroke, the Bears were holding onto a slim eight-point lead over runner-up Arizona State. That event is where Cal’s depth shined. Colby Mefford and Sebastian Somerset advanced to the consolation finals and finished third and eighth respectively to secure the Bears six points. Mefford finished with a time of 1:39.88 and Somerset clocked in at 1:41.91.

In the A Final, the Bears took first and second. Destin Lasco set a pool record with a time of 1:35.87 – just 0.14 seconds shy of trying Ryan Murphy’s NCAA record. Lasco finished the meet scoring 53 points as an individual after taking first in the 200 back, second in the 200 individual medley, and third in the 100 back. Cal’s Hugo Gonzalez finished second in the 200 back with a time of 1:36.72.

In the 100 freestyle, the Bears took second and third to build on the momentum from the backstroke. Jack Alexy out-touched teammate Björn Seeliger by 0.01 to finish in second with a time of 40.92 – the third-fastest time in program history. Seeliger captured fourth and adds to his collection of All-American honors.

In his final race as a Golden Bear, Reece Whitley earned All-American Honorable Mention, finishing 16th in the 200 breaststroke. He clocked in with a time of 1:52.93. Jason Louser finished sixth in the A-final with a time of 1:50.90, dropping 0.53 off his seed time.

Whitley has now been a part of three Cal national championships.

“This is exactly why I came back,” Whitley said. “Just to be here with these guys, it was a really easy decision after thinking about it for a while. We have just an amazing squad. This one definitely means the most.”

The Bears clinched the meet in the 200 butterfly, outscoring the Sun Devils 31-13 in the event. Gabriel Jett and Dare Rose finished third and fourth, respectively. Jett finished with a time of 1:39.40, dropping 0.31 off his seed time. Rose finished right behind him at 1:39.89.

In the final event of the evening, the Bears had an epic race in the 400 freestyle relay. The quartet of Seeliger, Alexy, Matthew Jensen, and Lasco finished with the second-fastest time in NCAA history at 2:44.08 -  0.01 behind first-place finisher Florida, which sent an NCAA record at 2:44.07.

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Cal Men's Swimming Wins Second Consecutive National Championship

2,780 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by JB was a Chieftain
76BearsFly
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Proudly flying the Cal banner for the NCAA Champions!!! Wow!
JB was a Chieftain
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Can Durden coach the basketball team?
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