By James Hemker
The No.7 men’s swimming team is two days through the Pac-12 Men’s Swimming Championships. The days featured some strong swimming, including season-best times, but they were also plagued by Stanford’s inability to find the podium.
Before the meet, senior Matt Anderson was named the men’s swimming Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year. With Anderson’s recognition, eight of the nine 2018-19 Scholar Athletes named thus far have all been products of the Farm.
“By winning this award, Matt has once again proven what an outstanding student-athlete he has been over four terrific years with us,” said head coach Ted Knapp. “He has always made an outstanding effort to be involved in the community to better the lives of his teammates and those around him.”
Wednesday night kicked off with the 200-yard medley relay and the 800-yard free relay. The 800 free team of junior Will Macmillan, freshmen Jack LeVant and Mason Gonzalez and junior James Murphy dropped their previous season best (6:17.34) down to 6:15.35. This time was good for a second place finish behind top-ranked Cal (6:10.94).
“Our 800 free relay was excellent tonight, we’ll probably look to move some things around in the 200 medley relay before NCAA’s, though,” Knapp said.
The all-senior 200-yard medley relay team of Ryan Dudzinski, Matt Anderson, Abrahm DeVine and Cole Cogswell also dropped a second off their best time, but compared to the rest of the field, their 1:24.71 finish was only good for fifth.
Thursday saw the 500-yard freestyle, the 200-yard IM and the 50-yard freestyle all slip away from the Cardinal, as just one swimmer found the podium. Despite this, it was a productive day for the team, with most of the swimmers reaching season bests.
Picking up the bronze in the 200 IM, DeVine (1:42.77) was the only Stanford swimmer to take a spot on the podium. Coming in places seven and eight, sophomores Brennan Pastorek (1:44.00) and Alex Liang (1:44.02) set new season records for themselves.
Touching sixth and seventh in the 500 free finals, sophomore Matthew Hirschberger (4:15.51) and Murphy (4:15.89) both hit season bests. Sophomore Johannes Calloni claimed his best mark of the season in prelims (4:16.09) but he was unable to hold that pace in the evening, rounding out the top eight at 4:17.83. Freshman Jack LeVant (4:14.21) had the third-fastest time of the night, but because of a poor preliminary showing, he was relegated to the B final.
“Credit Matthew Hirschberger for a strong time in the 500 which will get him to NCAAs,” said Knapp. “It was another solid performance for us with a lot of times in the 500 free and 200-yard individual medley which will reflect on our program top times list.”
Senior Brad Zdroik was the only Cardinal to earn his way into the A final in the 50 free. Zdroik’s prelim time of 19.62 tied his personal best set last year at NCAA’s. He was unable to improve upon it, taking eighth at 19.75. Cogswell (19.71) also scored points for the team in 11th place in the B final.
The night concluded with the 200-yard free relay. DeVine, Zdroik, Gonzalez and Cogswell each contributed a 50 free swim for a total time of 1:17.50. The time improved their own season best by almost half a second. Unfortunately, it was not good enough to reach the podium, and the team settled for fourth.
Thanks in large part to the divers’ performances last week, the Cardinal (308 points) sit just 34 points behind the Golden Bears (342 points) for first. Only the next two days of competition will reveal if they can keep, or even improve upon, their standing.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu.