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Three titles give Cal W. Swim 5 at ‘17 NCAA ahead of last day

Cal’s 5 titles is just one less than that of Stanford, who has a commanding lead in the team race (unfortunately).

I don’t have access to all the nice photos taken at this meet by professional photographers.
Cal Women’s Swimming Facebook

INDIANAPOLIS -- Overcoming the devastating DQ to end Night 2, the California Golden Bears bounced back with three more NCAA titles (2 individual and 1 relay) on Friday night; Golden Bears now have 5 NCAA Championships from this meet with one more day to go. California did leave some team points on the board with a pair of 9th place qualifying finishes in the morning by Katie McLaughlin in 200 Free and Amy Bilquist in 100 Back. Stanford was able to strengthen their commanding lead on the team title chase with a strong 200 Free presence (2 A and 3 B finalists) as well as the expected titles for Ella Eastin in 400 IM and (co-)title for Katie Ledecky in 200 Free. With just 7 events to go, Stanford lead California 374.5 to 255 (without the DQ in the 400 Medley relay, the difference would still be a rather sizable 73.5). Nonetheless, the California Golden Bears won all 3 races/national titles that they could win on Friday night; winning national championships are most certainly fun experiences.

Cal senior Farida Osman finally broke through with her 1st NCAA individual title after being the difference in so many NCAA relay titles in her Golden Bear career. The Egyptian Calympian won the 100 Fly race with the 3rd best time in history of 50.05 (former record holder and recently Louisville alum Kelsi Worrell was on hand to see the race and hand out the trophy). Showing the same come-from-behind gut that has lead to 5 NCAA relay wins (including 2 in this meet) in her Cal career thus far, Osman went from 8th in the first 50 to 1st at the end of the 100. Cal teammate junior Noemie Thomas, who had the top prelim time, swam a 50.65 in the final; the Canadian Calympian had to settle for 5th (but one spot ahead of Stanford’s top finisher in Janet Hu). Freshman Maddie Murphy earned All-American Honorable Mentions for making the B-Final; she was just edged by Auburn’s Haley Black for the B-Final title.

While Kathleen Baker did not see Osman’s victory, the much more confident swimmer from an year ago (thanks to her coming-out-of-nowhere qualification at the US Olympic Trials and those two shiny Olympic Medals - one gold from the medley relay and one silver from 100m back, from the Rio 2016 Games) added to her 2017 NCAA haul with her 2nd individual NCAA title of this meet. Baker continued the great Cal tradition by winning the 100 Back with an impressive time of 49.84. Actually, Baker’s leadoff leg in the 400 medley relay last night was slightly better at 49.80 (and despite the relay being a DQ, that record I have been told). Nonetheless, Baker was thrilled to be able to break that 50 second barrier (not to mention Natalie Coughlin’s Cal record) for two straight swims.

In Cal history, Rachel Bootsma has won the 100 Back for 3 of the past 4 years (2013, 2015, 2016). Cindy Tran won in 2011 and 2012. Calympian Golden Girl Natalie Coughlin dominated this event during her Cal career, winning it all four years from 2000 to 2004.

Fellow Cal sophomore Amy Bilquist, Indianapolis native from the nearby Carmel, won the B-Final with a time of 50.86 - which would have been good for 6th in the A-Final. Going off on a tangent, I ran into a docent at the nearby NCAA Hall of Champions before the night session who was proud of their local sports hero in Amy. Unfortunately, he had thought that Bilquist had gone to USC - home of the “liberals who riot”. I was able to correct him that it was Cal (that’s proud to have Bilquist), but I am not sure he completely bought my explanation that it was not culturally ingrained in the Berkeley DNA to break stuff - peaceful protests are a different thing.

In the final race of the night, it was redemption time for Cal Bears Relay after yesterday’s mishap (by the way, had that result stand - it would be California and not Stanford that would be leading this meet with 6 wins). The quartet of Kathleen Baker (back), Abbey Weitzeil (breast), Noemie Thomas (fly), and Farida Osman (free) set a new NCAA record with a time of 1:34.10. Osman admitted to taking an extra fraction of a second to make sure that the last exchange is sound after the mistake on Thursday night (Weitzeil was swimming the freestyle in that race).

Bears won the 200 Medley relay ahead of Texas A&M and Stanford (who barely qualified for the A-Final in the morning). Both Farida Osman and Kathleen Baker were 2x winner on Friday night with an individual title and a relay title. They had a fun, if brief chat with the press after the victories.

Looking ahead to Saturday - both Osman in the 100 Free and Baker in the 200 Back are strong candidates to win more NCAA national championships. Before we get to that below, here are quick recaps of the other races from Friday (Day 3) Night.

400 IM - Stanford sophomore Ella Eastin was not able to best Kathleen Baker in the 200 IM, but she was only battling the record in the 400 IM final. Eastin beat Ledecky’s American record (from a random time that Ledecky swam this race) but not that of USC’s Katinka Hosszu (the Hungarian Olympian). Chenoa Devine (37th) and Celina Li (43rd) were the two Cal entrants.

200 Free - People were not sure whether Simone Manuel or Katie Ledecky would win this race, so perhaps it was not a surprise that two Cardinals tie for the win. Oh wait, that’s Katie Ledecky with Louisville Cardinal (my adding of plural to Cardinals before is justified and not a dig on Stanford Cardinal being a non-plural term) Mallory Comerford that are tied for the lead at the end of a fairly fun race. Cal sophomore Katie McLaughlin earned All-American honorable mention honor (for the first time) for making the B-Final; she won that race too with a Personal Record of 1:43.17 (would have been 7th in the A-Final). Abbey Weitzeil (18th) and Kristen Vredeveld (22nd) just missed out on the scoring position.

100 Breast - Indiana’s outspoken Olympian Lilly King said that she swam awfully in this race without anyone pushing her (she apparently embraces the fact that people are not sure what Lilly is going to say in every press conference - she referred to herself in 3rd person). King still won with a meet record of 56.71 (more than a second faster than everyone else). King had more inspired swims during the two medley relays for her Hoosier team. Cal’s Marina Garcia placed 23rd in the prelim. She’s a better bet to do better in the 200 Breast on Saturday.

3-meter Diving - Cal sophomore Phoebe LaMay ended her NCAA swimming and diving championships without scoring any points (AKA All-American honors) after placing 39th in this event. She was much much closer on Thursday for the 1-meter with a finish of 19th overall. Minnesota senior Yu Zhou won the 3-meter diving event. Stanford Olympian Kassidy Cook placed 3rd.


Saturday Night Fever

Golden Bears are in contention in 4 events tonight. Kathleen Baker is one of the favorite for the 200 Back. Farida Osman and Abbey Weitzeil are the best possibilities to unseat Stanford’s Simone Manuel for the 100 Free. Katie McLaughlin may have her best swim yet to challenge for the 200 Fly.

In 1650 Free, Chenoa Devine swam a time of 1:04.34 - good for 12th before the final heat.

200 Back - Amy Bilquist will swim in the B-Final. Kathleen Baker will race for the NCAA championship.

100 Free - Kristin Vredeveld will swim in the B-Final. Farida Osman and Abbey Weitzeil will race for the NCAA championship.

200 Breast - Marina Garcia will swim in the B-Final.

200 Free - Noemie Thomas will race in the B-Final. Katie McLaughlin will race for the NCAA championship.

400 Free Relay - Golden Bears will race for the NCAA championship in this event.

Saturday Preview (pre-prelim)

7 more events to go on Saturday to close the exciting 2017 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship. After a short break from swimming (and some sightseeing of the area), I will be back to cover hopefully the Cal Men winning the 2017 team title next week. Be sure to check back to CGB for this year’s special coverage (I am not sure I will have the free time to do this for most years in the future - even though it’s been fairly fun - especially since we are winning some races).

1650 Freestyle - This is the main event for Katie Ledecky fans. How much will she lap the field in this one? Cal’s freshman open water swimmer Chenoa Devine is the only entrant. She is seeded 27th - maybe she can get in the top 16. Devine is in heat 4 (1:22 PM PT start time).

200 Backstroke - If you ask me before this meet for Cal’s best chance to win a NCAA title in this meet, I would have told you Kathleen Baker (almost spelled is “Backer”) in the 200 Back. Baker won this event in the Pac-12 Championships (Cal’s lone win due to the Stanford dominance that is not present this week). Baker’s confidence is also quite high after the 200 IM and 100 Back victories. Interestingly, her biggest challenger may be teammate Amy Bilquist - the hometown girl with the 4th best seed time. I would love to see the two goes 1 and 2 in some kind of order. Cal freshman Keaton Blovad (heat 3) will also swim in the prelim. Bilquist and Baker are in heat 7.

100 Freestyle - Both Abbey Weitzeil and Farida Osman may challenge Simone Manuel in this race. If Osman doesn’t have a slow start, I actually like her chances the most. Maddie Murphy (heat 3), Valerie Hull (heat 4), Abbey Weitzeil (heat 6), Kristen Vredeveld (heat 7) and Farida Osman (heat 8) are the prelim Cal swimmers.

200 Breaststroke - Marina Garcia is the 15th seed in this race. She is in heat 7. Indiana’s Lilly King is the Katie Ledecky of this race.

200 Butterfly - This is the event to shine for Cal sophomore Katie McLaughlin in her 1st NCAA (she had a neck injury in the Hawaii trip last year before kind of made things interesting at the Olympic trials). McLaughlin is the 6th seed (Stanford’s Ella Eastin is the top seed). Junior Noemie Thomas finished 7th and 8th in this even in the last two NCAA championships. Celina Li (heat 2), Noemie Thomas (heat 4), and Katie McLaughlin (heat 4) are the Cal swimmers in this one.

Platform Diving - No Bears, Don’t Care. Sorry!!!

400 Free Relay - Cal’s prelim time is actually only good for the 3rd seed behind Stanford and USC. After the 800 Free relay (where Cal placed 2nd), this is the other relay that I am not so sure about. I will never rule out a Cal surprise though.

Here are your links to view this meet online:

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

My Preview of the 2017 NCAA Championships: CGB

Saturday Prelims: IUPUI

Saturday Finals: ESPN3

Live results: Meet Results

Schedule: Indiana Sports Corp

California Golden Bears 2017 NCAA Titles:

200 Free Relay - Abbey Weitzeil, Maddie Murphy, Amy Bilquist, Farida Osman; 1:25.59 (NCAA Record)

200 IM - Kathleen Baker; 1:51.69 (Pool Record)

100 Fly - Farida Osman; 50.05 (Pool Record)

100 Back - Kathleen Baker; 49.84 (Just short of her pool record from the 400 Medley Relay leadoff)

200 Medley Relay - Kathleen Baker, Abbey Weitzeil, Noemie Thomas, Farida Osman; 1:34.10 (NCAA Record)