Cal’s Trenton Julian Seeking Spectacular Finish to Senior Season

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Cal’s Trenton Julian Seeking Spectacular Finish to Senior Season

Entering his senior year Pac-12 championships, Trenton Julian couldn’t wait to race. It was the first time in around a year that the Cal men’s team was set to compete in a three-day, suited prelims/finals meet.

“I kind of went into the first event not knowing what to expect, and just raced how I needed to, and it felt like I kind of started getting back into it,” Julian said. “From then on, it was just getting back into my routine that I’ve been practicing the past three years in college, and fine-tuning everything.

He finished the meet a Pac-12 Champion in the 200 butterfly and 500 freestyle, with his fly time of 1:38.53 the third-fastest in NCAA history. Julian will be the top seed going in the event at the NCAA championships. Because of the unpredictable nature of the season, Julian didn’t have any set time goals in mind going into the Pac-12 Championships. After a solid prelims swim in the 200 butterfly, he was hoping to be in the low-1:39 range in finals.

“It was pretty crazy finishing and seeing a time like that,” Julian said. “I really did not expect to be going that already. It was kind of shock and disbelief at first, but I got pretty excited after I looked to my teammates and saw them going crazy.

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The team dynamic has played a huge role in Julian’s development since arriving at Cal. He entered the program as a 1:45 performer in the 200 fly, and his Pac-12 swim last week of 1:38.53 marks an impressive seven-second drop from his club swimming days.

“The difference between training on club and training in college has been night and day,” he said. “It’s awesome being able to train with the pros, who I always thought were way above and beyond the times and speeds that I could be at from my freshman year, to my classmates, who I’ve been training with the past four years in various, different events.”

The coaching dynamic has also had a positive impact on his collegiate accomplishments.

“Although we are able to joke around a lot, we still have serious conversations when we need to,” Julian said. “I’ve always trusted that Dave (Durden) and Chase (Kreitler) have my best interests in mind when coaching me and want to see me improve as much as I do.”

Though the team faced limitations in training at the beginning of the season due to COVID-19 protocols, he believes they handled it in stride, and the successes of the team are a testament to the culture they’ve created at Cal.

“Our team’s done really well, going through this whole process, Julian said. “I think as a group, even though we’re having to separate and split our squad, we’re still able to keep each other accountable and keep pushing each other forward to the same goal.”

Now, Julian and his team will shift their focus toward the NCAA championships, which will be held in Greensboro, North Carolina March 24-27. Julian will compete in the 500 freestyle, 200 freestyle and 200 butterfly. This marks a change from the events he raced at his last NCAA meet, as he will swim the 200 freestyle instead of the 400 IM on the middle day of the competition.

“I think this sets me up a lot better for the 200 fly on the last day, which is probably the event I’m most excited about,” he said. “I feel like I have a good setup with the 200 free and 500 free, two days before. I didn’t do as well as I wanted to the last time I swam the 500 free at NCAAs, so I’m looking to have a better race in that and get some good points for the team in the 200 freestyle.”

This year’s championships are a huge opportunity for Julian, who is a title contender in all three of his individual events. Growing up with hugely successful parents in the sport, Julian has worked hard to make his swimming his own, inspired by the achievements of his parents. His mother, the former Kristine Quance, was a 1996 Olympian. His father, Jeff Julian, was a standout at USC and U.S. National Team member.

“I think I used to try to not think about my parents’ success since it felt like more pressure on my own swimming,” Julian said. “But now it doesn’t bother me, and it’s turned into me accepting what they’ve done as their own accomplishments and what I do are my accomplishments.”

Trenton Julian loves to race, and he will now shift his sights toward fast swimming in Greensboro as the Golden Bears look to defend their national championship title.