ASU Men’s Swim Team Strokes Its Way To 5th In The Nation

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Competitors start the men’s 100-meter backstroke in last month’s meet in Los Angeles. (Photo by Emeril Gordon/Cronkite News)

By Shayan Moghangard

LOS ANGELES – It’s not just that Arizona State University has one of the nation’s strongest men’s swimming and diving teams, which are ranked fifth.

What also makes ASU stand out is its outstanding prospects for future seasons, led by a cadre of underclassmen who can lead the Sun Devils to victory for years to come.

The men’s team’s culture of winning has brought in top recruits from around the world on a yearly basis. Bob Bowman, head coach of the men’s and women’s squads, said his teams are only getting stronger.

“We have basically raised the bar of expectation every year for the last eight years since we got here,” he said. “We have brought in people who want to be in that environment and have the talent to do those things.”

The men’s team has seen particularly strong performances during the season from a trio of freshmen – Cale Martter, Jonny Kulow and Owen McDonald.

“I feel our recruiting has gotten better each year not only in the ability level but also in getting the right people with the right mindset and attitude,” Bowman said. “We are pretty careful with who we bring in so they already have to exhibit those qualities.”

ASU freshman Cale Martter competes in the 200-yard individual medley against USC. (Photo by Emeril Gordon/Cronkite News)
ASU freshman Cale Martter competes in the 200-yard individual medley against USC. (Photo by Emeril Gordon/Cronkite News)

On Nov. 4 in Los Angeles, the men topped then-17th, now 16-ranked University of Southern California.

Then ASU’s men placed first among seven teams competing Nov. 17-19 in the N.C. State Invitational in Greensboro, North Carolina. The women’s team was third out of eight.

In Greensboro, sophomore Léon Marchand, who swam in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, set ASU records in the 200-yard butterfly and the 400-yard individual medley.

Marchand has gone 13 for 13 in winning individual events to begin the season, which began Sept. 23 and runs through March 22-25 with the NCAA Championships.

Marchand is joined by veteran ASU swimmer Grant House, a grad student who returned to the Sun Devils last academic year after a two-year hiatus to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo games.

McDonald, formerly the top-ranked high school recruit, began his first campaign as a Sun Devil this season and had six top-10 finishes at the Greensboro meet. It was also there that McDonald joined Marchand and junior David Schlicht on the podium when they won the top three spots in the 400-yard individual medley and third in the 200-yard backstroke.

Bowman said there’s more to the team’s success than just its winning record.

“They see the team when they come and visit and it has a very positive and supportive atmosphere,” he said. There are the “obvious attractions ASU has, from the amazing weather and pool, and hopefully, they think they can get the coaching to take them to the next level.”

The Sun Devils men’s team has wrapped up for the remainder of the calendar year and will be back in the pool Jan. 20 with a home meet against Stanford. The women resume Jan. 14 against Washington State.

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