By James Hemker
Tomorrow, No. 7 Stanford men’s swimming and diving will compete in their final meet of the season across the Bay against top-ranked California. The Golden Bears have held the ranking for almost the entire season, and they are the toughest competition any team, including Stanford, could face all year.
Since regular season dual meets don’t actually count towards conference standings for the championship, head coach Ted Knapp is not terribly concerned about the final score of the meet. Instead, he is looking for his swimmers to continue dropping time in preparation for Pac-12s.
“Our focus is going to be to try to keep our momentum going. We want to compete well and keep dropping time,” Knapp said. “It can be a challenge on the road at this time of year, but our preparation has been towards swimming faster than [we did] two weeks ago against USC. I am hoping to see some season bests.”
Unlike the women’s team, which practiced hard straight through their meet against Cal, Knapp has elected to lighten the practice load of some swimmers in preparation for Saturday. Swimmers will also be competing in fewer events overall against Cal. The goal is to have the men fresh so that they can gun for the NCAA qualifying marks at Pac-12’s.
“We need to get more guys qualified at the conference meet, so we have dialed back practice a bit,” explained Knapp. “We probably won’t put everyone in as many events as possible. Dual meets can be fatiguing, so we’ll probably have guys just swim two or three events Saturday.”
Both schools enter the weekend undefeated on the year. Two weeks ago, USC traveled north to swim against the Golden Bears and the Cardinal, and they returned to Southern California with two more tallies in the loss column.
California pulled off a modest 156-126 win against the Trojans while Stanford delivered a 196-93 thrashing. Despite the discrepancy in score, pitting Stanford’s times against Cal’s times puts the Cardinal on the losing side of the battle.
Of course, crazier things have happened, including last year’s duel: On Senior Day, Stanford pulled off a two-point victory in the final event of the meet to upset the Golden Bears.
Watch the men try to spoil Cal’s Senior Day tomorrow at noon in Spieker Aquatics Center.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.