Six Cal swimmers and both Head Coaches named to U.S. Olympic Swim Team

After 8 exciting days of racing, 8 Cal Bears will represent U.S.A. Swimming in Tokyo

A lot has already been written about the Cal Bears in the U.S. Swim Trials last week. Readers can use the link below to find the Cal-related results on each day.

Preview

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Eight Cal Bears will be representing Team USA in swimming in a month at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The swimming events will take place from July 24 – August 1, which will be the first week of action right after the opening ceremony on July 23.

Six of the 32 Cal Bears past, present, and future that raced last week across 17 events per gender were able to secure a spot on Team USA. They consist of both Olympic veterans and first-timers.

Returning to the Olympics:

Ryan Murphy

Tokyo Events: 100m Back, 200m Back, Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay, Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay

Cal Alum (‘17)

2016 Rio “Calympian”

Olympic Medals: 100m Back Gold, 200m Back Gold, 4x100m Medley Gold

One of the few superstar swimmers on Team USA, Ryan Murphy’s attempt to showcase his dominance as the best backstroker in the world next month reached the first checkpoint of him reaffirming his status as the best American backstroker.

Ryan Murphy became the first U.S. man since Aaron Peirsol to get to compete in both 100m Back and 200m Back on back-to-back Olympic games. Murphy can better the achievements of Peirsol IF he is able to repeat as the Gold Medalist in Tokyo on both 100m Back and 200m Back.

Murphy was able to win both the 100m Back and 200m Back at the swim trials last week. With the addition of a new event that is Mixed (gender) 4x100m Medley Relay at this Olympic, Murphy can do better than his 3 Golds in Rio by possibly winning 4 Golds in Tokyo.

Men’s 100m Back Final - 1st

Men’s 200m Back Final - 1st

Abbey Weitzeil

Tokyo Events: 100m Free, 50m Free, Women’s 4x100m Free Relay, Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay, Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay

Cal Alum (‘20)

2016 Rio “Calympian”

Olympic Medals: 4x100m Medley Gold, 4x100m Free Silver

Abbey Weitzeil again had a strong showing at the Swim Trials just like 5 years ago in 2016. Despite winning both the 100m and 50m events in 2016 over Simone Manuel, Weitzeil did not earn an individual medal in Rio when Manuel won Gold in 100m Free. The Cal alum will have two chances at her first individual Olympic medal.

In fact, Abbey Weitzeil could end up being the “Calympian” with the most overall medals in Tokyo. She has potentially one more chance at a medal than Ryan Murphy although the USA Women’s 4x100m Free Relay is not considered to be a lock for a medal, like in years past.

Women’s 100m Free Final - 1st

Women’s 50m Free Final - 2nd

Tom Shields

Tokyo events: 100m Fly, Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay (prelim)

Cal Alum (‘13)

2016 Rio “Calympian”

Olympic Medals: 4x100m Medley Gold (swam prelim)

Also seeking a first Olympic individual medal is Cal alum Tom Shields. Shields did make the 100m Fly final in Rio but placed 7th. For Rio, Shields raced in both 100m Fly and 200m Fly, his program at Tokyo will be halved.

Tom Shields has been very open about his struggle with mental health over the past few years. He credits his wife, among others in his training team/circle, for getting him through some tough patches. I am sure that we will hear more of these stories in the coming month leading up to the Olympic Games.

Men’s 100m Butterly Final - 2nd

1st-Time Olympians

Bryce Mefford

Tokyo event: 200m Back

Cal Alum (‘21) but could still possibly return and race at Cal for one more year

A number of Cal Bears could have potentially taken the second Team USA berth in 200m Back after Ryan Murphy. Bryce Mefford earned that right, especially after his strong showing in 100m Back fell a bit short. He will be the 2021 version of Jacob Pebley, but hopefully without falling short of the podium; Pebley placed 5th in the 200m Back final.

You can hear Bryce Mefford talk about Cal’s strong backstroke training crew, which includes his younger brother Colby who also raced in the U.S. Swim Trials Wave II last week, after earning a couple of wins two weeks earlier in Wave I. Apparently, everyone has a different strength and they all push one another to be better, and to be the next Ryan Murphy or Jacob Pebley.

Men’s 200m Back Final - 2nd

Katie McLaughlin

Tokyo event: Women’s 4x200m Free Relay

Cal Alum (‘19)

Katie McLaughlin talked about making her first Olympics in the press conference below. A freak training injury during her freshman year at Cal in 2016 essentially cost her a legit chance to qualify at the 2016 U.S. Swim Trials.

Q. Katie, this has been a long road with a lot of bumps. With your recent injury and everything else, can you put into perspective just how much this means to you and how tough even just the last year has been?

KATIE McLAUGHLIN: Honestly, not really. I can't really express how excited and grateful I feel. I think just one thing on that and I think everyone here has something in their journey that is hard for them to overcome. I don't feel like I'm different in that way, but I think that the People around me that are cheering for me every single day and believing in me what I mean having a hard time believing in myself is really who I am. I am the most grateful for right now -- I am not here because of myself. I am here because of all the people that are around me and care about me, and I'm so grateful for them and excited for this opportunity. Yeah.

This year, McLaughlin first fell short in the 100m Fly (5th in the final) before placing 4th in 200m Free to earn a spot on the US Olympic relay team. With a superstar like Katie Ledecky leading the way, the US should be considered the favorites for Gold again.

Women’s 200m Free Final - 4th

Andrew Seliskar

Tokyo event: Men’s 4x200m Free Relay

Cal Alum (‘19)

Just like McLaughlin, Andrew Seliskar also earned his Olympic team berth via 4th place in 200m Free to make the relay. The US men for the 4x200m Free Relay are considered unproven, however, though they are certainly talented enough to possibly win Gold.

A heralded recruit out of Northern Virginia, Seliskar steadily improved during his collegiate career to become a multiple event winner at the NCAA in his senior season. While there was hope that Seliskar could fill even more of the vacuum in USA Men’s Swimming left by Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, Seliskar only made the 200m IM final and was not quite fast enough to qualify for the 200m Free. With the next Olympic games not that far away, maybe this taste of the Olympic Games will inspire him to get even better in 2024.

Men’s 200m Free Final - 4th

Coaching Staff

USA Men’s head coach - Dave Durden

Soon after the 2016 Rio Games, Cal men’s swimming head coach Dave Durden was anointed the 2020 Tokyo Team USA men’s head coach. Durden will be the one deciding the relay lineups, including who will swim the morning prelim (the participant will also earn a medal) and who in the prime time finals.

Assistant coach - Teri McKeever

Cal Women’s head coach Teri McKeever served as the Team USA women’s head coach for the 2012 London Olympics. She will be heading to Tokyo as an assistant coach to Stanford’s Greg Meehan as the Women’s head coach.

Nonetheless, Teri will get the opportunity to get to know some of the younger members of Team USA…such as 16-year-old Claire Curzan or 15-year-old Katie Grimes. Just like we did not know that Missy Franklin would be a future Cal Bear at her breakout 2012 London Olympics, I am hopeful that one of the younger Team USA members may be a future Cal Golden Bear.


Other Swimming “Calympians” (list is possibly incomplete with some countries’ Olympic trials this week)

Stephanie Au (Hong Kong, 4th Olympic) - W 100 Back, W 4x100 Medley Relay; Cal Alum (‘14)

Hugo Gonzalez (Spain, 2nd Olympic) - M 100 Back, M 200 IM; Cal Rising Redshirt Senior

Farida Osman (Egypt, 2nd Olympic) - W 100 Fly; Cal Alum (‘17)

Zheng Wen Quah (Singapore, 3rd Olympic) - M 100 Back, M 100 Fly; Cal alum (‘20)

Alicia Wilson (Great Britain, 1st Olympic) - W 200 IM; Cal Rising Senior

GO BEARS!