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Cal places 2nd in 800 Free relay at NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships Night 1

800 Free relay is the only event of Day 1

The quest to win one more of these starts tonight for Cal Women’s Swimming and Diving
Cal Women’s Swimming Facebook

The 2017 NCAA women’s swimming and diving championship started as expected. California Golden Bears took 2nd place ahead of Michigan but behind rival Stanford. Golden Bears’ quartet of Kathleen Baker, Kristen Vredeveld, Amy Bilquist, and Katie McLaughlin posted a time of 6:51.42 - good for 3rd best in school history.

Of course, the Stanford quartet of Simone Manuel, Lia Neal, Ella Eastin, and Katie Ledecky shattered Stanford’s own NCAA, American, etc. record from the Pac-12 championship few weeks ago. They finished 1st with a time of 6:45.91. Ledecky has a split of 1:40.46. Only Cal’s Amy Bilquist with a split of 1:42.08 is faster than that of any Cardinal (Lia Neal’s 1:42.15).

Well, Day 2 should see plenty of competitive races where the Golden Bears would hopefully be able to win a NCAA title or two.


While yours truly is traveling today to Indianapolis for the two big swim (and dive) meets for these next two weeks, the now 4 day long NCAA championships (it was only 3 day long two years ago when I saw the Cal women, led by Missy Franklin, win the team championship in Greensboro, NC) starts tonight with the 800 Free relay.


LIVE results: HERE

My preview of the entire meet from the Cal vs. Stanford point of view can be found HERE.

Event 1: 800 Free Relay - 3 PM PT

Like I mentioned in the preview, Stanford are the overwhelming favorites to win this event thanks to one Katie Ledecky. The fact that Simone Manuel is also the top seed in 200 Free makes them twice as deadly. Curiously, Manuel was not a part of this relay for Stanford at the Pac-12 (but the Pac-12 scheduled two relays on the first night). Stanford went with Lia Neal, Katie Drabot, Ella Eastin, and Katie Ledecky to win with a time of 6:49.42 - already a new NCAA record. Ledecky’s split of 1:40.28 is two-three seconds better than everyone else.

The biggest race will likely be between the Stanford quartet against their potential - just how much lower can they push that record? Of course, might they push themselves so much that they actually cracked on the biggest stage of the season?

Golden Bears finished 2nd at the Pac-12 with a time of 6:53.37. Bears used the quartet of Kathleen Baker, Katie McLaughlin, Abbey Weitzeil, and Amy Bilquist - the dream class of recruits who were ranked 2nd-5th in the country behind Katie Ledecky (both Ledecky and Weitzeil took an year off to train for the Olympics before matriculating this past fall).

Bears finished 3rd in this event last year with a quartet that included Baker and Bilquist along with the since graduated Elizabeth Pelton and Rachel Bootsma.

Prior to the Pac-12 championship few weeks ago, the previous NCAA record for the 800 yard Free relay was set by the 2015 Golden Bears at the NCAA Championships. A time of 6:50.99 was swam by Cierra Runge (transferred to Wisconsin), Elizabeth Pelton (graduated), Camille Cheng (graduated), and Missy Franklin (turned pro).

Of course, the Golden Bears won the 4th NCAA team championship in program history. It’s time to start working on that 5th one tonight, even if Stanford may think they have got this one already.