Ryan Hoffer, Cal Sprinters Make Needed Statement at NCAA Championships (VIDEO)

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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Sprinting has been a forte for the Cal men’s swim team the past few years, so it was no surprise that the Golden Bears sprinted out to a lead on the first full night.

But it was the way they sprinted ahead that could be the key to an NCAA championship.

The Bears opened Thursday night’s session by winning the 200 free relay as Pawel Sendyk, Ryan Hoffer, Michael Jensen and Andrew Seliskar blitzed the field in 1:14.46.

With their pack of sprinters, it was not a surprise.

But after that blistering pace, the group quickly recovered for the second assault.

“That was a great effort by the boys,” Hoffer said. “We kept moving forward. We knew we had a lot more swims ahead of us.”

After Seliskar won the 200 IM, Hoffer and Sendyk finished 1-2 in the 50 free to give the Bears 37 points, plus the eight from Jensen’s B-final win.

“It is a real mental process to get through all of these races and perform at a high level,” Hoffer said. “We had to take it a step at a time. We were cautious with our recovery and our nutrition — and we came out with the ‘W’ — going 1-2. It was what we were looking for — what we needed.”

Hoffer finished in 18.63 and Sendyk clocked an 18.68 sending the Bears and coach Dave Durden into a frenzy.

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Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona

“I am so happy I am swimming fast. That is what I came here to do. We have been racing this entire year — and last year. When we saw that 1-2, it was just so cool. I don’t know how to explain it,” Hoffer said. “It was just really special.”

To top that off, Jensen moved up from the 15th seed to tie for the win in the consolation final and finish ninth.

“We were so excited for (him). He got us going,” Hoffer said. “It was something that really got us going.”

The event put Cal up 49 points over second-place Texas.

The Golden Bears capped the night with a second-place finish in the 400 medley relay with Hoffer anchoring. That performance came from lane one, right in front of the Cal team.

“That was so much fun,” Hoffer said. “We had so much energy, it was awesome. The theme of this is we are moving on. We are ready for tomorrow. We are thriving off of this energy that we are putting out.”

Knowing that Texas was going to score diving points (trimming lead to 212-188 after the session) and that Indiana (155 points) and NC State (136 points) had big days ahead, this was Cal’s day — and the Bears needed every bit of it.

Video Interview with Ryan Hoffer: