BERKELEY – David Durden’s No. 2-ranked California men's swimming team (5-0, 2-0 in Pac-12), winners of 12 straight dual meets carrying over from last season, travel to southern California this week to take on CSU Bakersfield (2-6) on Thursday and No. 3-ranked USC (2-0) Friday. Both dual meets begin at 2 p.m.
The Golden Bears are coming off of resounding victories over Pac-12 foes Arizona State (178-113) and Arizona (206-92) Jan. 24-25 at Spieker Aquatics. Freshman standout Ryan Murphy named the Philip Hunsaker CollegeSwimming.com Men's Division I Swimmer of the Week after placing first in the 100 free (44.27) and 200 free (1:37.51) versus ASU, while contributing a split of 19.82 to the winning 200 free relay. Against then-fifth-ranked Arizona, he captured the 100 (46.85) and 200 back (1:41.88), led off the winning 200 medley relay in a time of 21.80 in the 50 back, and led off the winning 400 free relay in a blazing 43.92.
USC features a 400 free relay team that returns three members – Cristian Quintero, Dimitri Colupaev and Jack Wagner – from last year’s national champions in that event. Quintero is also the defending Pac-12 champ in the 200 and 500 free. The Trojans finished fourth at the 2013 NCAA championships.
Cal sophomore Jacob Pebley currently has the nation’s fastest collegiate time in the 200 back (1:40.72), while the Bears’ 400 free relay team (sophomore Tyler Messerschmidt, Murphy, junior Fabio Gimondi and junior Seth Stubblefield) has the country’s top mark at 2:51.16.
Cal will again vie for an NCAA crown in 2014, after winning the national crown in 2011 and 2012, and placing second in 2013. Leading the Bears will be two individual champions from 2012 – senior Marcin Tarczynski (200 individual medley) and junior Will Hamilton (200 butterfly) – plus four members (senior Shayne Fleming, Stubblefield, Gimondi, Messerschmidt) of title-winning relays. Additionally, Cal features standout sophomores Josh Prenot (2013 Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year, conference 400 IM champion) and Pebley (third in the NCAAs in the 200 backstroke), plus star recruit Murphy, one of the nation’s top young backstrokers who was third in the 200 back at this summer’s U.S. national championships.
Cal opened its 2013-14 dual meet season with a 149-104 victory over Pacific on Oct. 3 in Berkeley, defeated Big 10 foe Indiana, 173-122, on Oct. 11 at Spieker Aquatics Complex, and topped Wisconsin, 151-131, Nov. 1 at home.