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Cal Women’s Swimming and Diving in 2017 NCAA Championships preview

Can the Golden Bears pull off a huge upset and win the team title over favorite Stanford?

Cal senior Farida Osman and the Golden Bears will be looking to finish 1st in several events this week at the 2017 NCAA championships.
Cal Women’s Swimming and Diving Facebook

With Cal Men’s Basketball not in the running for the NCAA title, Cal swimming (and diving) will most certainly wins some individual, relay, and possibly team NCAA titles in these next two weeks with Women’s meet this week and the Men’s meet next week. Given that the two sports that Cal dominates traditionally are not governed by the NCAA (men’s crew and rugby), NCAA swimming national championships is indeed the time when Cal earns most NCAA national championship titles traditionally.

California Golden Bears Women’s Swimming and Diving are sending 13 swimmers and 1 diver to Indianapolis, Indiana this week for the 2017 NCAA Championships. Golden Bears, finished 3rd in the team standings last year, are the clear favorite for 2nd place for this year’s meet behind Stanford. In all, the Golden Bears are qualified in 34 individual swimming events (19 swims in the top 16 by psych sheet), 2 diving events, and (of course) all 5 relay events.

Cal Women’s Swimming and Diving will be looking to add to their history of 4 NCAA team titles (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015) - most amongst all Cal women’s sports, 44 NCAA individual titles, and 17 NCAA relay titles. Bears have won at least one relay title since 2010 (6 year streak). Bears have won at least one individual title since 2008 (8 year streak). *This is all assuming that records are correct.

The Bears have arrived in Indy for NCAA Championships! #GoBears #BucaBears #2017NCAAs

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Here are your links to view this meet online:

Prelims starts at 7 AM PT, Finals starts at 3 PM PT

Wednesday Finals: IUPUI

Thursday Prelims/Finals: IUPUI

Friday Prelims: IUPUI

Friday Finals: ESPN3

Saturday Prelims: IUPUI

Saturday Finals: ESPN3

Live results: Meet Results

Schedule: Indiana Sports Corp

Quick recap of the scoring, the top 16 swimmers (or relay teams) will score points toward the team championships. Swimmers race in the prelim in the morning to qualify for the A- and B- Finals in the evening. The lone exception is the 1650 Free where the swimmers only race once with the top 8 seed racing in the evening session.

Points are awarded on a sliding scale:

For Relays (Double the point of individual events), they are

40 (extra points for the winner), 34, 32, 30, 28, 26, 24, 22 for the A-Final participants

18 (again bonus points for the winner), 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 for the B-Final participants

For Individual Events

20 (extra points for the winner), 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11 for the A-Final participants

9 (bonus point for the winner), 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 for the B-Final participants

It should go without saying, but points are not awarded for finalists who are disqualified (DQ'ed, typically for a false start or illegal turn).

Can anyone beat Katie Ledecky? Or rather, by what margin will Katie Ledecky break her own records? These are probably the two biggest questions heading into this meet, with all eyes on the Stanford freshman superstar.

When you concede the 500 Free, 1650 Free, 800 Free Relay, etc. to Ledecky, Stanford has got a fairly big margin for error. For the Golden Bears to potentially challenge Stanford, they would need to win all the other relays (which didn’t happen at the Pac-12 few weeks ago) and edge Stanford’s other stars in the other events (also didn’t happen).

Simone Manuel (another Rio 2016 Olympic darling), Ella Eastin, Janet Hu are the other Stanford swimmers expected to win multiple NCAA titles. Stanford also has Ally Howe on the backstroke who may challenge Cal’s dominance in that stroke this year.

Let’s take a quick glance at each event:

500 Free - Katie Ledecky will dominate this event. Top Cal finisher should be Katie McLaughlin (7th best seed time). Maybe Chenoa Devine can sneak into the B-Final.

200 IM - This should be the first of many Cal-Stanford battle at the top. Calympian Kathleen Baker may be the only person who can challenge Stanford’s Ella Eastin in this event. Cal senior Celina Li should also score points for the Bears if she can drop some time from her psych sheet.

50 Free - USA Olympic teammates and rivals will fight for the top spot in this one. Stanford’s Simone Manuel has had the better time over Calympian freshman Abbey Weitzeil, but I don’t think we have seen the best from Weitzeil this year yet. Also in the mix are Cal senior Egypitan Calympian Farida Osman and Stanford’s forgotten Olympian in Lia Neal. Cal’s freshman Maddie Murphy and sophomore Amy Bilquist may also be able to score in this event.

400 IM - Stanford’s Ella Eastin won’t face a Cal challenger in this one. Cal’s Celina Li should score some points for the Bears here.

100 Fly - Stanford’s Janet Hu has the top seed time, but look for Cal’s Calympians in Farida Osman (Egypt) and Noemie Thomas (Canada) to challenge for the title. Freshman Maddie Murphy should also contribute points.

200 Free - Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky are the top two seeds in this event. Cal’s Kristin Vredeveld and Katie McLaughlin should score points (hopefully in the A-Final). Abby Weitzeil need to shave more time off her seed time to score points.

100 Breast - Olympian and local (Indiana) star Lilly King should win this one. Cal’s Marina Garcia and Stanford’s Kimberly Williams should be the top contenders in this event (by far the weakest stroke for both Bay Area rivals).

100 Back - Stanford’s Aly Howe had a terrific swim in this event at the Pac-12, but I still have faith in Cal’s Kathleen Baker to pull this one out and defend Cal’s “Backstroke U” title. Stanford’s Hu and Cal’s Bilquist are also in the mix.

1650 Free - Will Katie Ledecky laps the field? Chenoa Devine is the top Cal qualifier here but her seed time is only 27th best (maybe she can score some points).

200 Back - In my worst case scenario for this meet, Cal only wins one title (like in the Pac-12) and that would be Calympian Kathleen Baker in the 200 Back. Stanford’s Janet Hu may be Baker’s top challenger here. Cal’s Amy Bilquist is the dark horse.

100 Free - Simone Manuel has a firmer grip on this event than the 50 Free, but I hope Abbey Weitzeil and Farida Osman can challenge her here (both should be A-Finalists regardless). Hopefully, Maddie Murphy and Valerie Hull can surprise and score more points for the Bears here.

200 Breast - The only other event without a Stanford/Cal frontrunner. Lilly King should win this one. Cal’s Marina Garcia is a 15 seed (may she make the A-Final). Stanford may not score any points here.

200 Fly - Stanford’s Ella Eastin is the favorite here. Cal’s Katie McLaughlin should be an A-Finalist, but she’s got to swim a PR to challenge Eastin here. Calympian Noemie Thomas should also score points for the Bears here, if not challenge for the title.

As for the relays, Stanford’s dominance in 200 Free basically clinched the 800 Free. I expect that both medley relays (200 and 400) to be really competitive (Bears are counting on sprinter Abbey Weitzeil for the breaststroke leg here). The 200 and 400 Free relays should also be fun. Cal’s the favorite in the 200 Free relay based on the psych sheet.

Scoring the psych sheet, Stanford will run away with this meet with 551 points to Cal’s 400 points (USC is 3rd with 246).

Diving - I have not looked at how many Stanford divers have qualified but Cal’s sophomore Phoebe LaMay will compete in both spring board events (1-meter and 3-meter). She should score some points (at least the B-Final) there.

The full list of Cal participants and their events are:

Assuming that my travel is not impeded by the winter storm on Wednesday, I should be getting to the IUPUI Natatorium just before the two relay finals. Expect at least one post per day from Wednesday to Saturday both for the women this week and the men next week on CGB. I am also hoping to meet some Cal swim fans in these next two weeks - I am most definitely Cal alum/fan first.