By James Hemker
The members of No. 7 Stanford men’s swimming and diving team (4-0, Pac-12 3-0) return to the Farm with two more wins under their caps. On Friday, No. 15 University of Arizona (1-3, 0-3) fell to the Cardinal 178-115. The next day, the victory was mirrored in Tempe, Arizona as No. 17 Arizona State (1-2, 0-2) drowned 176.5-121.5.
This solid pair of ranked wins is a great sign for Stanford, which had been expecting a back and forth set of meets. The Cardinal men won 20 of 32 events in which they competed.
The weekend started fast as the all-senior squad of Patrick Conaton, Matt Anderson, Abrahm DeVine and Cole Cogswell touched first in the 200-yard medley relay (1:27.28). A switch from Conaton to senior Brad Zdroik helped drop Saturday’s time by almost a second (1:26.64), but it was not enough to overcome the Sun Devils’ relay for first.
Long distance specialist junior True Sweetser was able to claim silver in the 1000-yard free both days (9:09.33, 9:14.44), while junior James Murphy had a comfortable margin of victory on Saturday with his time of 9:08.19.
Murphy (1:37.37) trailed freshman Jack LeVant (1:35.42) in the 200-yard free on Friday, and freshman Mason Gonzalez (1:37.62) gave Stanford its first podium sweep. LeVant (1:36.14) was able to repeat his success for another gold medal against the Sun Devils.
Conaton was Stanford’s leading backstroker this weekend, picking up victories in both the 100-yard (48.23) and 200-yard (1:45.42) variants against Arizona. Despite dropping time in both events (48.01, 1:44.08), the Sun Devils were able to make him settle for silver.
“I’m really happy with how I swam this weekend. It’s definitely nice to see some of the work pay off at this time in the season,” said Conaton. “The way we swam this weekend will continue to propel us through the last half of the year and give us confidence and momentum heading into championship season.”
The 100-yard breaststroke is shaping up to be one of Stanford’s strongest events.The team claimed the top four spots both days, with Anderson (54.71, 54.29) and junior Hank Poppe (55.13, 54.62) paving the way.
The closest race of the weekend was the 200-yard butterfly at Arizona. In a band-bang finish, sophomore Alex Liang (1:46.93) out-touched junior Will Macmillan (1:46.96) by three one-hundredths of a second. Liang (1:47.50) and Macmillan (1:47.78) were able to repeat their finishes on Saturday.
In the fast 50-yard and 100-yard free events, the Cardinal fared better against the Wildcats. Zdroik paced the 50 free field at 20.35 while Gonzalez (44.97) did the same in the 100 free. In the same races against the Sun Devils, Zdroik (20.19) managed to claim second place while Gonzalez (44.89) was pushed back to third.
Pac-12 Diver of the Week freshman Conor Casey (328.05, 390) was able to continue his success on the one meter springboard, securing first place against both opponents. Casey (383.55) also grabbed second place on the three-meter board against Arizona State, while fellow freshman Noah Vigran (290.25) took third place against Arizona.
Freshman breaststroke specialist Daniel Roy (1:58.90, 1:58.05) won gold in the 200-yard breaststroke both days. His Saturday performance led a podium sweep completed by sophomore Brennan Pastorek (2:00.88) and Anderson (2:01.14).
The long-distance men then returned to the water for the 500-yard free. Murphy’s 4:25.15 was good for second place against Arizona. Sweetser (4:25.16) was able to pick up his first win of the weekend against the Sun Devils. Murphy (4:26.01) and sophomore Matthew Hirschberger (4:29.12) made it another all-Cardinal podium.
Zdroik was the only Cardinal to secure three individual events after his dominant performances in the 100-yard butterfly. Zdroik was able to drop time from 47.59 on Friday to 47.32 on Saturday. After the meet, he said, “Overall I was very happy with my swims this weekend, and it’s always fun to travel with the team and compete and grow together. We cheer each other on and use the success of our teammates as inspiration to get better ourselves, and I think that really showed this weekend.”
The final individual event of the weekend was the 400-yard IM. Perfectly demonstrating the balanced nature of the team, the four fastest times were colored Cardinal. DeVine (3:53.23) left his teammates in his wake, finishing over three seconds faster than Liang (3:56.44) and sophomore Johannes Calloni (3:56.90).
The Arizona meet ended with the exciting 200-yard free relay. Conaton, Cogswell, Zdroik and DeVine served up a 1:20.24 first-place finish, which brought all the momentum into Saturday.
Like the start of the meet, the Sun Devils were able to capitalize on their relay strengths. The 400-yard free relay team of LeVant, Zdroik, Cogswell and Gonzalez (2:56.71) were unable to best the Sun Devils, instead settling for second.
Despite the big wins, the Cardinal have no time to relax. The team now has two weeks to make adjustments and continue training before Senior Day. For the last home meet of the year, No. 10 USC will make the trek north on February.
“We’ll definitely be bringing a lot of energy with it being Senior Day and our last home meet,” Conaton said. “But for now, we’re just headed back to work.”
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.