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Stanford’s Olympic swimming stars shined brighter than Cal’s

No.1 Stanford may have triumphed on Saturday, but wait until the NCAA to see who is better on the year.

Swimming - Olympics: Day 1
After sharing the silver medal in the 4x100 Free relay in Rio, Cal freshman Abbey Weitzeil will go up against Furdies Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky today. Unfortunately, Cal alum Dana Vollmer has exhausted all of her NCAA eligibility.
Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Stanford won Saturday’s “Big Swim”/”Big Stroke”/”Big H20 Meet” over the Golden Bears by a 177 to 123 score. Frankly, the margin was a bit larger than I have anticipated. Nevertheless, there are still two weeks until the Pac-12 Championships (which has never been the Bears’ goal and I believe our NCAA record for when we win the Pac are not nearly as good as when we finish 2nd or so in the Pac) and a month until the NCAA Championships from Indianapolis, IN.

8 pool records were broken, 2 by the Golden Bears ( 200 medley relay and 400 free relay). Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel each dominated on Saturday afternoon. I was also surprised by a Furdie (Janet Hu, who had a great meet by also winning 100 Fly) breaking the 100 Back record at Spieker - may that be short lived since Cal is Backstroke U. On the bright side for the Bears, senior and 2012 London Calympian Marina Garcia (Spain) tied for 1st in both 100 and 200 Breast to close out her Cal career at Spieker in style. Cal sophomore Katie McLaughlin, who missed last year’s NCAA after suffering a neck injury during the winter, won 200 Fly.

Expect the Bears to drop some time between now and 2 to 4 weeks from now (Pac-12 and NCAA). It’s possible that Katie Ledecky (who’s kind of superhuman, so could likely be the exception) and some of her Stanford teammates are feeling the pressure from the expectation, they may easily be peaking at the wrong time.

Cal men should have less problem against Stanford next Saturday for the men’s Senior Day, but unfortunately that meet is not televised.


California Golden Bears vs. Stanford Cardinal

Where: Swimming - Spieker Aquatics Complex; Diving - Legends Aquatic Center (Berkeley, CA)

When: 12 noon PT (to about 1:30 PM PT)

TV: Pac-12 Networks

It will be a showdown between the No.1 and No.2 ranked women’s swimming and diving teams on Saturday from Berkeley. While the format of a dual meet, particularly the scoring, is drastically different from that of the Pac-12 championship, and even more importantly, the NCAA national championships, plenty of bragging rights will be at stake this weekend. I will not necessarily read too much into this result with regards to the NCAA championship next month, when the same two teams will vie for the top spot again. SwimSwam’s “Swimulator”, after factoring some aggressive tapers - time improvements between now and the NCAA championships - particularly for the Cal Bears who have a great history of doing this better than the rest, predicts a very close 613 to 583 final point total with Stanford ahead (they also predict a very close 557 to 542 final point total with Cal ahead of Stanford for the men). I am seriously considering taking a week plus vacation in Indianapolis next month to see/cover/cheer-on/write-about both of the NCAA championships with the hope of seeing the Golden Bears pulling this double.

The Golden Bears will be celebrating their 5 seniors - Calympians Farida Osman (Egypt) and Marina Garcia (Spain) in addition to NCAA champion in Kristen Vredeveld (200 Free relay in 2016), long time NCAA point contributor in Celina Li (Bears’ top Individual Medley swimmer), and diver Hayden Tavoda. Let’s send the seniors out with a satisfying victory, please!

Plenty of star power (if you watched Swimming in Rio 2016) will be present at Spieker - in addition to Cal’s stable of Calympians led by medal winners in Kathleen Baker and Abbey Weitzeil in addition to Noemie Thomas, and the previously mentioned seniors in Osman and Garcia, Stanford will bring superstar Katie Ledecky in addition to Lia Neal and Simone Manuel. Stanford’s Manuel and Cal’s Weitzeil are essentially the top two sprinters in the world.

Stanford will also bring 2016 Rio Olympic diver in Kassidy Cook. Cal’s own sophomore diving sensation Phoebe LaMay will make sure that Stanford does not sweep the podium in diving.

It should be a very fun meet - one of those events that make me regret not living in the Bay Area.

Cal vs. Stanford starts at noon Saturday at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Stay focused.

A photo posted by @calwswimanddive on