By Alex Bhatt
At the end of the final race, the 200 free relay in Avery Aquatic Center, few in the crowd knew what just happened. The Cardinal entered the event with a seven-point lead and an opportunity to upset the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, but the Bears won the event, and two Cardinal swimmers came in second and third.
After a few moments of hushed anxiety, the result was finally known. No. 4 Stanford men’s swimming and diving (6-0, 4-0 Pac-12) had upset No. 1 Cal (5-1, 4-1) 151-149 on Senior Day.
Though the Bears set a new pool record and won the event, the overall depth of the Cardinal prevailed in the 200 free relay and in the other races.
“Finishing up like we did today, I am really happy with who we are, what our identity is moving into the postseason,” Stanford head coach Ted Knapp said. “What we have seen throughout the dual meet season are different people stepping up. And today, [junior] Abe DeVine did a great job with that regard. [Freshman] Jordan Greenberg did a great job stepping up. Our depth has continued to keep us in the meet.”
“We are not winning as many events as the other teams do, but because of our depth and the scoring, we maintain a very competitive position even though we don’t win.”
DeVine swam a personal best to win the 100 back with a time of 46.89 while also winning the 200 back and the 200 IM. Greenberg also recorded a personal best of his own in the 100 free with a time of 44.84.
Though Stanford only won five of the total 14 swimming events, seniors Tarek Abdelghany and Ted Miclau were able to earn big points for the team in their respective diving events. On the 3-meter, Miclau scored 366.83 and Abdelghany scored 342.30, earning both senior divers the top two spots. Abdelghany won on the 1-meter with a score of 349.05, while Miclau’s 306.68 earned him a third-place finish.
After the meet, Abdelghany remarked, “Going undefeated this season was really great; our team was really able to come together and battle for this win. It meant a lot for us seniors to see all of the younger guys really step up as well.”
Looking forward, he wants to “[j]ust keep doing what we’re doing” and “hope it transfers over to Pac-12s and then [the NCAA Championships].”
Sophomore Grant Shoults also had a stand-out performance, breaking his own pool record in the 500 free as he won with a time of 4:17.69. In the 1000 free, freshman Johannes Calloni clocked in a season-best time of 8:59.20 and a first-place finish.
With the victory, Stanford handed the Bears their only defeat of the regular season while remaining perfect on the season. The Avery magic was palpable, according to senior Sam Perry.
“We just got really fired up,” Perry said. “We try to do it every meet but, you know, Cal’s a special case. They are our rival across the Bay so we get really juiced for it. It showed today, and it worked. We’re definitely doing it for our fans, doing it for our teammates, and it was a lot of fun.”
For the Cardinal, all eyes are now on the postseason as they will travel to Federal Way, Washington in an attempt to win their third Pac-12 Championship in a row from Feb. 28-March 4.
“The dual meet season is a lot different than the postseason,” Knapp said. “What we did in the fall is a lot more representative of what we need to be getting ready for now.”
“We’re starting to really hone in on the specifics and start racing our bodies really nicely,” Perry said. “I think it showed a lot today in a few of our races. Some guys were looking really sharp and doing life-time best dual-meet swims.”
“We’re really happy, and we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing, because it paid off today,” Knapp said.
After the conference championships, the 2018 NCAA Championships will be held just a few weekends afterward from March 21-24 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Contact Alex Bhatt at abhatt21 ‘at’ stanford.edu.