Duel in the desert part one: Men’s swim & dive finally fall

Jan. 21, 2023, 8:55 p.m.

The Cardinal men’s swimming & diving squad saw their winning streak finally snapped Friday after a hard-fought duel with No. 1-ranked Arizona State in Tempe ended 186-114 in favor of the home side.

Riding the wave of nine dual meets unbeaten, Stanford (2-1, 1-1 Pac-12) bore down upon Tempe, Ariz. for their first meet in a weekend double header. While Dan Schemmel’s squad held their own against the Sun Devils, winning four events and raking in multiple top-three finishes alongside a handful of season-best performances, ASU — the country’s top team in 2022-23 — prevailed, buoyed by four NCAA-leading times.

The first of those performances came in the 200-yard medley relay — the day’s opening event, when the Sun Devils’ 1:22.60 beat out any time posted in that relay by any team this season. Stanford’s quartet of senior Leon MacAlister, freshman Zhier Fan, sophomore Andrei Minakov and junior Luke Maurer were hot on their heels for second place in 1:24.47, and the Cardinal again placed second in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:18.15), this time courtesy of Minakov, MacAlister, Gu and Maurer.

Two events later, sophomore Ron Polonsky grabbed second place in the 200-yard freestyle, the versatile IM’er’s 1:33.83 beaten only by ASU’s Grant House, who clocked 1:31.51 to take over top spot in the event across the NCAA. Polonsky also finished runner up in the 200-yard individual medley later in the meet, touching in 1:43.72 behind ASU’s Leon Marchand. Marchand’s 1:38.96 places him top of the pile in the medley, while the Frenchman’s 1:49.16 in the 200-yard breaststroke made him the fastest NCAA swimmer by over a second so far this season. 

Freshman Zhier Fan (1:56.33) was Stanford’s top finisher in that distance breaststroke race in fourth place, adding to a second-placed performance of 52.63 in the 100-yard breaststroke.

The 200-yard backstroke, meanwhile, saw the Cardinal claim their first win of the day. That victory came courtesy of MacAlister, the backstroker once again shining for Stanford as he touched first in 1:41.26. Freshman Hayden Kwan (1:42.78) joined MacAlister on the podium, in third place. MacAlister (46.21) and junior Aaron Sequeira (46.78) also raced into second and third place in the 100-yard backstroke.

After bursting back onto the dual meet scene in his 2022-23 meet debut, the reigning NCAA champion Minakov threw down a 45.07 in the 100-yard butterfly to take top spot, with Sequeira (46.23) in third. That event-winning time is over three seconds quicker than Minakov swam just last weekend, while the sophomore also placed second in the 50-yard freestyle, stopping the clock at 19.62 — followed by Maurer (fourth, 19.80) and last week’s Pac-12 swimmer of the week, freshman Rafael Gu (fifth, 19.88).

Maurer followed up that swim with a 43.40 for fourth in the 100-yard freestyle, with Gu (43.42) again just behind him in fifth and freshman Andres Dupont (43.77) in sixth. Places four through six in the 200-yard butterfly went to juniors Jonny Affeld (1:44.36), Ethan Hu (1:44.38) and Rick Mihm (1:45.28).

In the day’s distance events, junior Preston Forst swam 4:19.62 in the 500-yard freestyle for second place, while sophomore Matt Fenlon (9:04.06) placed third in the 1000-yard freestyle.

Just as they did in the women’s events, Stanford’s divers excelled in Tempe — sophomore Jack Ryan winning both the 1-meter (324.38) and 3-meter (352.95). Junior Hunter Hollenback twice finished second behind Ryan, while junior Ethan Foster took fourth in the 1-meter and third in the 3-meter.

Alex Dakers is a staff 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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