Duel in the Desert part 2: Men’s swim & dive sweep Wildcats aside

Jan. 25, 2023, 11:41 p.m.

After falling to their first loss in 10 dual meets, the Cardinal men’s swimming & diving (3-1, 2-1 Pac-12) bounced back in style — an emphatic 190-86 win over the University of Arizona (2-4) on Saturday morning, capping off a weekend of racing in the desert.

That 104-point margin of victory is Stanford’s largest in the history of this matchup, and extends the Cardinal’s spotless record on the Wildcats’ turf to 10-0.

The two teams took a relay apiece in Tucson; the 200-yard medley relay that opened the meet proved a tight affair which tipped in favor of the home side by just two tenths of a second, before Stanford took their revenge in the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay. 

Senior Leon MacAlister, sophomore Ron Polonsky, junior Aaron Sequeira and freshman Rafael Gu’s medley relay effort of 1:28.59 saw them out-touched by Arizona (1:28.37), while the Cardinal’s second unit — consisting of freshman Josh Zuchowski and juniors Ethan Dang, Ethan Hu and Jonny Affeld — were under half a second back in third place. In the freestyle relay, meanwhile, sophomore Andrei Minakov, junior Luke Maurer and seniors MacAlister and Neel Roy touched first by nearly two seconds, clocking 2:55.95.

On the individual side, Gu continued his strong debut season with another standout performance. The freshman secured wins in the 50 (20.30) and 200-yard (1:36.59) freestyle, as well as the 100-yard butterfly (47.71) — the latter ahead of Hu (second, 48.51). 

Those victories were three of 13 event wins for the Cardinal, as Dan Schemmel’s squad dropped only two events in Saturday’s matchup: the medley relay and the 200-yard butterfly, in which Zuchowski (1:50.69) and sophomore Matt Fenlon (1:50.79) were separated by a tenth of a second for positions two and three. Minakov dropped a 1:42.57 in the distance butterfly — the fastest time in the field by five and a half seconds — but only raced the event as an exhibition swimmer.

Sophomore diver Jack Ryan also shone once again with a comfortable win in the 3-meter diving event, ahead of juniors Hunter Hollenbeck (third) and Ethan Foster (fourth).

Freshman Hayden Kwan chipped in with two event titles of his own, claiming the 100 and 200-yard backstroke in 48.54 and 1:45.22, respectively. After multiple races with two top-three placings for the Cardinal, that 200-yard backstroke was the the squad’s first podium sweep of the day as Sequeira and freshman Zhier Fan chased Kwan home.

Fan posted a 53.57 in the 100-yard breaststroke that was good for his own individual win, while Dang — after taking third in the 100-yard event behind Fan — clocked 1:59.54 to win the 200-yard breaststroke by almost five seconds, with sophomore Hayden Zheng (2:04.41) stopping the clock next in the distance breaststroke event to give Stanford a one-two finish.

MacAlister (44.07) and freshman Andres Dupont (44.27) emulated that result, taking the top two spots in the 100-yard freestyle.

The 1000-yard freestyle saw junior Preston Forst (9:24.59) and freshman Liam Custer (9:28.87) finish first and second respectively in the day’s longest event, while Maurer (4:35.19) and senior Andrew Matejka (4:36.69) did the same in the 500-yard freestyle. Matejka had led with 50 yards to go in that 500, with Maurer snapping at his heels and within a second at every split time, before the junior hit the gas with a 25.91 final 50 to snatch the win.

In the day’s final individual race, junior Rick Mihm (3:58.24), sophomore Ron Polonsky (3:58.43) and Custer (4:02.44) swept the 400-yard individual medley podium, with another strong final 50 yards enough for a lead change that saw Mihm take a close-fought win.

Full results of Saturday’s meet can be found here.

Next up

The Cardinal are back in action Saturday, Feb. 4, at 12 p.m. PT, when they will take on USC at the Avery Aquatic Center. That matchup against USC is the team’s senior meet and last home meet of the season, before a trip to Berkeley two weeks later (Feb. 18, 12 p.m. PT) in advance of Pac-12 and NCAA Championships in March.

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.

Login or create an account