Affeld, Dang & Forst clinch titles in Triple Distance meet vs Cal

Nov. 7, 2022, 3:27 p.m.

Diving into its second competition of the 2022-23 season, the Stanford men’s swimming squad faced off on Friday against fierce Pac-12 rival Cal in the 2022 edition of the Triple Distance meet

A non-team-scoring meet, this annual swim season staple splits each team’s swimmers into event groups based on stroke and distance: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, sprint and distance freestyle and individual medley. Each swimmer then must compete at three different distances within their assigned group: the 50, 100 and 200-yard races of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and sprint free; the 200, 500 and 1,000-yards for distance freestylers; and the 100, 200 and 400-yard for the individual medleys. Swimmers’ times are then totaled for their three events to determine the overall winner for each set of three races.

The Cardinal claimed three of the day’s six event trio titles, in what The Goldman Family Director of Mens Swimming, Dan Schemmel, described as “probably the best performance we’ve had at this meet top-to-bottom.” 

Junior Preston Forst blew the rest of the field out of the water in the distance events, notching wins in each of the 200 (1:38.91), 500 (4:29.26) and 1000-yard freestyle (9:17.23) that amounted to a total time (15:25.40) nearly 16 seconds quicker than his closest competitor. Sophomore Gabe Machado, senior Andrew Matejka and freshman Henry Morrissey joined Forst in the distance triple-up, placing third through fifth. 

In the triple distance breaststroke, junior Ethan Dang’s 200-yard breaststroke proved decisive as he clinched the top spot over freshman Zhier Fan by a total time of 3:17.49 to 3:18.54. Fan was tenths quicker — and fastest overall — over both 50 (25.08) and 100-yards (54.18), but Dang seized the breastroke crown with a strong 1:57.94 in the 200-yard breaststroke, just over a second ahead of his freshman teammate’s 1:59.28. Both Fan and Dang were the only men to dip under the 2-minute mark in that event as they charged to first and second overall, with Stanford’s other breaststroke-designee, sophomore Hayden Zheng, placing sixth amid the tight remaining field with a 3:25.71 total time.

The triple distance butterfly title, meanwhile, came down to a mere 0.32 seconds overall across the cumulative times of the three events that separated junior Jonathan Affeld (2:57.55) from Cal’s Dare Rose (2:57.87). Affeld showed the range to touch first in both the 50 (21.87) and 200-yard butterfly (1:47.07) to pip the Bears’ swimmer as the meet’s fastest butterflier, while fellow junior Ethan Hu took third in 2:59.12 overall (22.44, 48.36, 1:48.32) and sophomore Matt Fenlon placed fifth.

An even smaller margin of victory — 0.27 seconds — was seen in the sprint freestyle. Cal’s Robin Hansen secured the overall triple distance victory (2:40.56 total time), swimming a meet-best 1:36.37 over 200-yards, but he was followed closely by Stanford junior Luke Maurer (2:40.83 total time) following the latter’s second-place finishes (20.07, 43.75, 1:37.01) in each of the three sprint freestyle races — behind Hansen in the 200, and one of the NCAA’s top sprinters in Cal’s Bjorn Seeliger in the 50 and 100-yard distances. The Cardinal also stacked the rest of the top six places, with freshmen Rafael Gu and Andrew Dupont, sophomore Avery Voss and senior Neel Roy grabbing third through sixth place, respectively. 

There were also podium finishes in the Triple Distance individual medley (IM) from sophomore Ron Polonsky (6:31.99), who made the silver medal spot his own both overall and in each of the 100 (50.17), 200 (1:46.40) and 400 IM (3:55.42), and from senior Leon MacAlister’s third-placed overall result (2:55.78) in the Triple Distance backstroke group.

While this meet doesn’t count towards the Cardinal’s season dual meet record, which remains intact at 1-0, head coach Schemmel certainly sees it as a “very good sign of things to come” as the team knuckles down in preparation for the final competition of the fall quarter. 

The swimmers travel to Greensboro, N.C. for the NC State/GAC Invite on Nov. 17-19, while the squad’s divers compete at the Texas Diving Invite in Austin, Texas that same weekend.

Alex Dakers is a contributing writer in the sports section and a first-year masters student studying Journalism. He is from the Cayman Islands (and more recently, an undergrad in the UK). You can catch Alex in the gym, at the pool or trying to find somewhere to watch the Premier League games — if he can wake up early enough to watch them! Contact him at sports 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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