The last time a Stanford men’s swimming and diving team went undefeated through a dual-meet season was in 2010-11, when the then-No. 2 Cardinal knocked off the then-No. 1 Cal in both teams’ final dual meet to finish a perfect 7-0 heading into the championship meets. That year, the Cardinal went on to clinch its 30th consecutive Pac-10 championship and finished third at the NCAA Championship meets.
Stanford will look to revisit history this weekend when it again faces Cal with a perfect dual-meet season on the line. Coming off of a solid win over No. 4 USC, the No. 8 Cardinal (7-0) will face off against the undefeated No. 3 Golden Bears (7-0) on Saturday morning as it aims to build momentum in preparation for a run at the Pac-12 title in early March.
An experienced Cal squad that will come into the matchup having won its last 14 dual meets will undoubtedly be a tough draw for the Cardinal. Although Stanford has won seven of the last eight renditions of the Big Swim, the Cardinal’s reign of dominance atop the Pac-12 ended last season when Cal not only defeated Stanford in the Big Swim, but also at the Pac-12 Championships, making this meet especially meaningful for both teams involved.
The Golden Bears return 13 swimmers from last season’s national runner-up squad, including two reigning individual national champions in events. Stanford, meanwhile, will counter with experience of its own, spearheaded by junior David Nolan – a reigning national champion in two events himself.
Cal matches up well with the Cardinal all across the board. While Stanford’s strengths lie in Nolan’s strong events – the backstroke and individual medley (IM) – the Golden Bears will counter with one of the top IM swimmers in the country in sophomore Josh Prenot, who currently owns top-10 national times in both the 200-yard and 400-yard IM events.
Meanwhile, in the 100-yard backstroke, one of Nolan’s strongest events, Cal freshman Ryan Murphy is the owner of the second-fastest time in the country with his 45.77 swim at the AT&T Winter National Championships in December.
But Cal’s success in those events doesn’t detract from its ability to compete in other events in any way. Sophomore Tyler Messerschmidt has some of the fastest sprinting times in the country, while senior Jeremy Bagshaw is one of the best distance swimmers in the nation as the nation’s leader in the 1000-yard freestyle. And Nolan should have fierce competition in the 200-yard backstroke from sophomore Jacob Pebley, the owner of the nation’s top time in the event.
Although Nolan and junior diver Kristian Ipsen will be heavily relied on, as always, to pace the Cardinal to victory, Saturday morning’s meet will be a final chance for the Cardinal’s seniors to energize a packed home crowd at Avery Aquatic Center on what is sure to be an emotional Senior Day against their rivals from the East Bay.
Diving will kick off at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning against Cal, with the swimming portion of the meet starting at 11 a.m.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.