Head coach Skip Kenney often preaches about “conserving emotional energy” throughout the season, and the men’s swimming and
diving team will look to release some of that energy when archrival Cal comes to town this weekend.
The No. 2 Cardinal will face the No. 4 Golden Bears in the annual Big Meet, the last dual meet of the season before the Pac-10 Championships.
The meet will feature more than just top-five talent, as the rivalry of the two storied programs often brings out an intensity not seen during the rest of the dual-meet season.
“Both programs have had a lot of success over the years, and every year proves to be a close meet . . . it gets heated and every victory is filled with emotion,” said senior All-American Eugene Godsoe.
Although swimming is a sport that tends to foster a lot of friendship and mutual respect among competitors, those connections will be forgotten when the Big Meet title is at stake.
Sophomore All-American Chad La Tourette explained, “I grew up with a lot of these guys . . . but when we get on the pool deck, we stop being friends.”
La Tourette has been a key contributor in the distance swims for the Cardinal this season. He and fellow sophomores Trevor Scheid and Michael Zoldos will look to take advantage of a Cal distance corps that is weaker than the rest of the Golden Bear team. All three will likely swim both the 500- and 1,000-yard freestyle.
If the Cardinal looks to have an advantage in the long distance events, the Golden Bears will have the edge in the short sprints. Nathan Adrian is one of the best short sprinters in the country, if not the world, and has the top 50-yard freestyle time in the NCAA to go with the second-best time in the 100-yard free.
The Cardinal will attempt to counter Adrian with All-Americans senior David Dunford and junior Alex Coville.
The rest of the meet’s competitions will be hotly contested battles. The meet could hinge on the results of the relay events. Dual-meet scoring awards 11 points for first place and a mere four points for second. In individual events, a team can offset the nine points awarded for a victory by scoring multiple athletes in the rest of the top five.
With such a close contest expected, the Cardinal will once again rely on its experience. Captains Godsoe and junior David Mosko will be counted on for big performances. Godsoe has been a standout in backstroke events this year. He has the top time in the country in the 100-yard backstroke and is ranked in the top 15 in the 200-yard event, but will be challenged by Guy Barnea and Mathias Gydesen, two of the top backstrokers in the country.
Mosko is top 15 in both the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard butterfly. He will most likely team up with the trio of sophomores at 500, and with sophomore Robert Bollier and junior Josh Charnin-Aker in the 200.
The top Stanford breaststrokers are sophomore Curtis Lovelace and junior John Criste. The Cardinal will also expect contributions from freshmen Matthew Swanston and Matthew Thompson. Both are ranked nationally in the 200-yard backstroke, and Thompson is also ranked in the 400-yard individual medley.
The Stanford diving squad will be led by junior All-American Brent Eichenseer. Senior All-American Dwight Dumais is still sidelined by a shoulder injury and his return for the season is in doubt.
The action kicks off at Avery Aquatic Center on Saturday at 1 p.m.