No. 10 Stanford men’s swimming and diving (4-2, 3-2 Pac-12) ended its regular season Saturday with a 156-142 loss to No. 2 Cal (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) in a battle across the Bay.
The Cardinal were within touching distance the whole afternoon, recording multiple season-best times and adding some NCAA qualifying cuts, but in the end fell just short of repeating last season’s dramatic victory against the defending NCAA champion Bears.
Sophomore diver Jack Ryan was a star performer once again, recording wins in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events, while freshman Peyton Donald nabbed second place on the 3-meter.
The two teams traded wins throughout the meet as Cal took the opening 200-yard medley relay and 1000-yard freestyle before juniors Luke Maurer (1:34.04) and Preston Forst (1:34.16) swung momentum back in the Cardinal’s favor with season-best times and a 1-2 finish in the 200-yard freestyle.
Maurer also grabbed third in the 100-yard freestyle at 43.06, with sophomore Andrei Minakov taking the win in a team-leading time of 42.20, while Forst clocked in at 4:16.79 for a season-best mark and first place in the 500-yard freestyle. Freshman Rafael Gu was the team’s top performer in the 50-yard freestyle, coming in at 19.87 for third place.
Gu (45.77), alongside juniors Jonny Affeld (46.30) and Ethan Hu (46.53), claimed second through fourth place, respectively, in the 100-yard butterfly, beaten only by Cal’s Gabriel Jett. That was Jett’s second butterfly win of the day after an earlier victory in the 200-yard butterfly, while Affeld’s season best of 1:43.64 was good for third place in that 200.
Senior Leon MacAlister (second, 46.06) suffered a rare defeat in the 100-yard backstroke to Cal’s Destin Lasco, but was joined in the top three by junior Aaron Sequeira (third, 47.12) as Stanford continued to rake in the points early on. Lasco went on to sweep the backstroke events with a win in the 200-yard event, while MacAlister (third, 1:42.44) once again found his way onto the podium.
In the breaststroke events, sophomore Ron Polonsky put up his and the Cardinal’s fastest 100-yard breaststroke so far this season to take first in 51.77, followed by freshman Zhier Fan (52.66) in second place. Fan (1:55.86) repeated that second-placed finish in the 200-yard breaststroke, behind Cal star Reece Whitley, with junior Ethan Dang (1:57.68) securing third.
Later in the meet, Polonsky’s time of 1:42.08 in the 200-yard individual medley earned the sophomore another podium finish, in second place.
Gu, MacAlister, Maurer and Minakov didn’t have quite enough to run down the Bears in the final race of the day, but still put together a season-best 2:48.40 in the 400-yard freestyle relay that stands over a second quicker than Stanford’s time in that relay at this point last year and earned the team an NCAA ‘A’ standard.
That was the Cardinal’s second season-best relay time of the day, after a 1:24.00 from MacAlister, Polonsky, Minakov and Gu was fast enough for second place and an NCAA ‘B’ cut in the 200-yard medley relay at the beginning of the session.
Full results can be found here.
The Cardinal’s divers are straight back into action this week for the Pac-12 Diving Championships Feb. 23-25, before the swimmers head to Federal Way, Wash. for the Pac-12 Men’s Swimming Championships March 1-4.