Olympic Finalist Bryce Mefford Returns to Cal Men’s Roster for Fifth Year

Bryce Mefford -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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Olympic Finalist Bryce Mefford Returns to Cal Men’s Roster for Fifth Year

For the entire fall season, 200-meter backstroke Olympic finalist Bryce Mefford was not listed on the roster for the California Golden Bear’s men’s swimming program. Mefford was a senior during the 2020-21 campaign, but the NCAA gave an extra year of eligibility to all athletes in winter sports last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two of Mefford’s prominent teammates, butterflyer and freestyler Trenton Julian and backstroker Daniel Carr, immediately took advantage of this rule to return to the Bears, but it was not clear if Mefford would do the same. Outside of one relay at a Cal meet, Mefford has not competed in any formal swimming competition since Tokyo.

However, Mefford’s name now appears on Cal’s roster, and Cal head coach Dave Durden confirmed that Mefford will be competing for the collegiate squad this season. Cal has a string of dual meets remaining before the Pac-12 Championships in early March in Federal Way, Washington, and the NCAA Championships four weeks later in Atlanta.

Mefford’s return is huge for a Cal team that has finished in the top two at every NCAA Championships since 2010. Last season, he took third in the 200-yard back behind the now-departed Shaine Casas and freshman teammate Destin Lasco. Mefford was also eighth in the 100 back and ninth in the 200 IM at the national championships. A backstroke squad led by Mefford, Carr and Lasco figures to rack up enormous points at NCAAs, and while Cal faces a huge test with defending national champion Texas, the Golden Bears always swim their best at the national championships.

During the summer of 2021, Mefford earned his international breakout when he placed second behind Cal postgrad Ryan Murphy in the 200-meter back at Olympic Trials, earning himself a spot at the Tokyo Games. Mefford became the 16th-fastest performer in history with that swim, although he still sits behind seven Americans on the all-time list (Aaron PeirsolRyan LochteTyler Clary, Murphy, Nick ThomanMichael Phelps and Jacob Pebley). Mefford ended up finishing fourth in the event in Tokyo, missing a spot on the podium by less than eight tenths.

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