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Cal Bears at 2018 NCAA Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships: Bears in 2nd place after Day 3

While the Golden Bears are projected to take 2nd place behind Stanford, they will likely still win some NCAA individual and relay titles this week.

The 2018 Cal Bears Relays should still be quite formidable, even after the graduation of Farida Osman.
Cal Women’s Swimming and Diving Facebook


After 14 of 21 events, the Cal Golden Bears are firmly entrenched in 2nd place in the team standings with 268 points to be behind Stanford’s 414 but ahead of Texas A&M’s 186. Unfortunately, Bears have yet to break through to claim any national titles...yet.

Bears had a pretty good Friday morning to nearly qualify everyone in scoring positions. Freshman Sarah Darcel made the A-Final for 400 IM but finished 8th place. Noemie Thomas and Katie McLaughlin took 4th and 6th in 100 Fly. Katie McLaughlin immediately swam the 200 Free A-final where she was 8th with teammate Robin Neumann finishing 5th.

Bears’ best chance to get a win came in the 100 Back, but Kathleen Baker finished 3rd behind Stanford’s Ally Howe and Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson. Bears closed the night with a strong 200 medley relay swim but had to settle for 2nd behind Stanford’s NCAA record swim.

Stanford continued to dominate this meet (as expected). Ella Eastin set a new record in winning the 400 IM over teammate Katie Ledecky. Ally Howe nearly matched her own NCAA/American record in winning the 100 Back. Stanford quartet of Howe, Williams, Hu, and Manuel set a new record for the 200 Medley Relay.

Other records were broken on the night like Indiana’s Lilly King with the 100 Breast. USC’s Louisa Hansson only set a new pool record in the 100 Fly. Same came be said of Louisville’s Mallory Comerford who finished this event in a tie with Ledecky last year (Ledecky chose to swim the 400 IM this year). Brooke Shultz of Arkansas claimed the 3-meter diving win.

Looking at Saturday, Kathleen Baker has her best event in the 200 Back. Abbey Weitzeil is certainly capable of beating Simone Manuel in the 100 Free. Golden Bears also have the top seed time for the 400 Free Relay. Chances are good that the Bears can continue their long streak of winning at least one NCAA title at the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championships.

A slight change of my original plan, I would likely only be able to write a post after the Saturday’s finals are done. My next women’s swimming post will be a recap of this week’s action to go up on Sunday.



Golden Bears are winless through 7 events in the 2018 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships despite breaking several school records on Thursday.

Bears opened the night session with a new school record in the 200 Free relay with a time of 1:25.50. However, Stanford managed to do slightly better to win their 2nd relay of the meet after they also won the 800 Free relay on Wednesday night (where Cal took 3rd).

There were no Bears in the 500 Free. Katie Ledecky held off teammate Katie Drabot as Stanford took the top two spots in this rae.

In the 200 IM, Kathleen Baker was first and above record pace going to the freestyle. Stanford’s Ella Eastin was able to make her move then to edge Baker. Both Baker and Eastin were under the old NCAA record (so that’s another school record for Kathleen Baker). In the consolation final, freshman Sarah Darcel took 16th place.

In the 50 Free, Amy Bilquist and Maddie Murphy finished 1st and 2nd in the consolation final. Abbey Weitzeil finished 4th in the main event, with the win going to her Stanford rival in Simone Manuel.

With Stanford’s Kassidy Cook finishing 18th in the prelims to miss out on scoring, Stanford’s winning streak was snapped as Minnesota’s Sarah Bacon won the diving 1-meter. Cal’s Phoebe LaMay finished 42nd in her lone event of the NCAA.

In the final race of the night, Stanford lead wire to wire for another NCAA record. Indiana and Cal were the next two finishers.

After 7 events, the team standings have Stanford on top with 211 points. Cal is 2nd with 147 points. Texas, Tennessee (who were DQ’ed in the 400 medley relay), and Michigan are next with 109, 108.5, and 101 points.


It’s that time of the year again! The two week period from which the bulk of the “National Champions” Banners around campus next year will be filled. It is NCAA National Championships time for swimming (and diving) where the strong Cal Aquatics tradition will likely continues with multiple new individual, relay, and hopefully team national titles to be etched forever into the Cal record books.

It does not require the team national championship for the Golden Bears to earn some championship blings. Check out the rings that the relay winners got below.

Put a ring on it. NCAA Champs!

A post shared by Cal Women's Swimming & Diving (@calwswim) on

This week, the Cal Women’s Swimming and Diving team (a group of 9 Cal swimmers and 1 diver) will compete from Columbus, Ohio from the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The competition will begin with the 800 free relay tonight, before the daily prelim/final schedule through the end of Saturday.

While it is certainly a lock that the Cal Bears continue the streak of finishing in the top 3 as a team (2018 could be year 10 of this feat), the Golden Bears are expected to be a fairly distant 2nd place finisher in the team competition behind Stanford, last year’s champions.

The loaded Stanford squad is possibly even better than they were last year. Although Olympian Lia Neal has graduated, both USA Olympic superstars Katie Ledecky (sophomore) and Simone Manuel (senior) have opted to retain their amateur status for another year. Stanford actually qualified so many swimmers and a diver (Olympian Kassidy Cook) that they have to bench one of their qualified swimmer to meet the maximum team roster size limit of 18.

Thanks to Stanford scratching a qualified swimmer, Texas A&M benefited by adding an extra swimmer and match Stanford with a full roster. Texas A&M is the only other school beside Cal that has any slim chance of upsetting Stanford this week. Saturday night may turn out to be a tight race between the Bears and the Aggies for team position.

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 exceptions are the 1650 Free and 800 Free relays where the swimmers only race once, although the winner will most certainly come from the final race with the top 8 seeds.

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).

2018 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Meet Page

Live Results: Link

5 of the sessions (other than Friday and Saturday nights) will be streamed for free on Buckeye Vision (links below). Friday night’s action will be on ESPNU. Saturday night’s action can be viewed live on ESPN3 online. The tape delayed cut of the whole championship will be shown on ESPNU at a later date.

Wednesday, March 14


Day One Finals

800 Freestyle Relay

Golden Bears placed 3rd behind Stanford and Michigan. Robin Neumann, Kathleen Baker, Katie McLaughlin, and Amy Bilquist did set the 2nd best time in this event in school history.

Buckeye Vision

Thursday, March 15


Day Two Swimming Trials

Buckeye Vision

9:30 AM PT

One-Meter Diving - Trials

15 minutes following trials, One-Meter Diving Consolation Finals (9-16)

Buckeye Vision


Day Two Finals

200 Freestyle Relay - Consolation

200 Freestyle Relay - Finals

Bears qualified 3rd in the morning using a lineup of Weitzeil, Murphy, Valerie Hull (who I did not have listed below), and Katie McLaughlin.

It was a close one between Cal and Stanford but Ally Howe in the last leg was able to hold off Abbey Weitzeil (Weitzeil did have the better split but Bears couldn’t make up for the slight Stanford lead from Simone Manuel’s 2nd leg).

  • 200 Freestyle Relay Award Presentation

500 Freestyle - Consolation

500 Freestyle - Finals

No Cal Bears nor any surprises in this event as Katie Ledecky wins it.

  • 500 Freestyle Award Presentation

200 Individual Medley - Consolation

Cal freshman Sarah Darcel made the B-Final with the 14th best prelim time to score points for the Bears.

200 Individual Medley - Finals

Defending champ Kathleen Baker swam the 6th best time in the prelim to earn a shot to defend this title.

Baker broke the old American record but it was not enough as Stanford’s Ella Eastin overtook her on the last turn.

  • 200 Individual Medley Award Presentation

50 Freestyle - Consolation

Maddy Murphy and Amy Bilquist just missed the A-Final by finishing the prelim with the 9th and 10th best times.

50 Freestyle - Finals

Abbey Weitzeil had the 2nd best prelim swim. This race is expected to be between her and Stanford’s Simone Manuel.

  • 50 Freestyle Award Presentation

One-Meter Diving - Finals

Cal’s Phoebe LaMay was 42nd in the prelim in her lone event of the NCAA this year.

  • One-Meter Diving Award Presentation

400 Medley Relay - Consolation

400 Medley Relay - Finals

Bears qualified for the final tonight with the 7th best time in the prelim. The prelim swim lineup consisted of Keaton Blovad, Ali Harrison, Noemie Thomas, and Katie McLaughlin. I expect the Pac-12 championships lineup tonight.

  • 400 Medley Relay Award Presentation

Buckeye Vision

Friday, March 16


Day 3 Swimming Trials

Buckeye Vision

8:30 AM PT

Three-Meter Diving Trials

15 minutes following trials, Consolation Finals (9-16)

Buckeye Vision


Day 3 Finals

400 Individual Medley - Consolation

400 Individual Medley - Finals

Freshman Sarah Darcel is in the A-Final.

  • 400 Individual Medley Award Presentation

100 Butterfly - Consolation

100 Butterfly - Finals

Senior Noemie Thomas has the 2nd best time to make the A-Final, along side junior Katie McLaughlin.

  • 100 Butterfly Award Presentation

200 Freestyle - Consolation

200 Freestyle - Finals

Freshman Robin Neumann and junior Katie McLaughlin are A-Finalists.

  • 200 Freestyle Award Presentation

100 Breaststroke - Consolation

100 Breaststroke - Finals

  • 100 Breaststroke Award Presentation

100 Backstroke - Consolation

Amy Bilquist just misses out on the A-Final and will be the top seed for the consolation.

100 Backstroke - Finals

Kathleen Baker will get the chance to defend her title tonight.

  • 100 Backstroke Award Presentation

Three-Meter Diving - Finals

  • Three-Meter Diving Award Presentation

200 Medley Relay - Consolation

200 Medley Relay - Final

Golden Bears qualified for the A-Final with the 2nd best time.

  • 200 Medley Relay Award Presentation


Saturday, March 17


Day Four Swimming Trials

Buckeye Vision

9:15 AM PT

Platform Diving Trials

15 minutes following trials, Consolation Finals (9-16)

Buckeye Vision

12:45 PM PT

1,650 Freestyle Early Heats

Buckeye Vision


1,650 Freestyle

  • 1,650 Freestyle Award Presentation

200 Backstroke - Consolation

200 Backstroke - Finals

  • 200 Backstroke Award Presentation

100 Freestyle - Consolation

100 Freestyle - Finals

  • 100 Freestyle Award Presentation

200 Breaststroke - Consolation

200 Breaststroke - Finals

  • 200 Breaststroke Award Presentation

200 Butterfly - Consolation

200 Butterfly - Finals

  • 200 Butterfly Award Presentation

Platform Diving - Finals

400 Freestyle Relay - Heat 1

400 Freestyle Relay - Heat 2

  • Platform Diving Award Presentation

400 Freestyle Relay - Consolation

400 Freestyle Relay - Finals

  • 400 Freestyle Relay Award Presentation

Team/Individual Award Presentation


The 2018 Cal Golden Bears Women’s Swimming and Diving team at the NCAA consists of 11 (psych sheet has always shown 10 swimmers, I just miscounted) swimmers and 1 diver*.

  • Kathleen Baker – 100 back, 200 back, 200 IM (3rd NCAA), defending NCAA champ in all three of these events
  • Amy Bilquist – 50 free, 100 back, 100 free (3rd NCAA)
  • Keaton Blovad – 100 back, 200 back, 200 IM (2nd NCAA)
  • Sarah Darcel – 200 IM, 400 IM, 200 fly (1st NCAA)
  • Ali Harrison - 100 breast (1st NCAA)
  • Valerie Hull - relay only (4th NCAA - 1st one was with Auburn)
  • Katie McLaughlin – 100 fly, 200 free, 200 fly (2nd NCAA)
  • Maddie Murphy – 50 free, 100 fly (2nd NCAA)
  • Robin Neumann - 100 free, 200 free (1st NCAA)
  • Noemie Thomas – 100 fly, 200 fly (4th NCAA)
  • Abbey Weitzeil – 50 free, 100 free, 200 free (2nd NCAA),
  • Phoebe LaMay - 1-meter (2nd NCAA)

*The official Cal Bears dot com release said that the traveling Cal squad has 11 swimmers. This is confirmed by Farida Osman’s picture. Valerie Hull (who is just swimming relays) is pictured below and got in the 400 medley prelim lineup.

From the back row (L to R) we have McLaughlin, Bilquist, Hull, and Weitzeil. Middle row (L to R) are Neumann, Darcel, Blovad, and Baker. Front row (L to R) are Thomas, Murphy, and Harrison.

This may be due to the fact that the current 2nd and 5th alternates are Cal Bears. Sophia Krivokapic-Zhou and Chenoa Devine (who qualified for the NCAA last year) are those Bears, respectively.

The Golden Bears are led by in Teri McKeever, who is easily the best female head coach in the country (although there are still not nearly enough of them) and was the head Team USA women’s coach for the 2012 Beijing Olympic games.

Even with the tempered expectation on the team result, Golden Bears should bring home several NCAA national titles nonetheless. Last year, the Bears won 6 titles with 4 individuals (3 by Kathleen Baker and 1 by Farida Osman since graduated) and 2 relays.

Junior Calympian superstar Kathleen Baker is probably the best bet to win some national titles. Baker has the top time for the 200 Back and a top 3 time for both 200 IM and 100 Back. Baker is also a threat to break individual record in the opening backstroke legs of the medley relay; she set a new 100 back record in the 400 medley relay, even though the Bears DQ’ed later in that swim at the NCAA last year.

The next best Cal hope for an individual title is sophomore Calympian Gold medalist Abbey Weitzeil in the 50 Free and 100 Free. Both of those races are expected to be a two women race between Weitzeil and Stanford’s Simone Manuel. As we have seen from the Pac-12, Weitzeil may also be the breast stroke swimmer for the Bears in the medley relays.

Golden Bears have the top seed time for the 200 Free, 200 Medley, and 400 Free relay. Bears are 2nd behind Michigan for the 800 Free relay and behind Stanford for the 400 Medley relay.

Without more swimmers qualifying, Teri McKeever will have to rely on her stars for both the prelim and final swims for the most part. Hopefully, the Bears will be able to withstand the extra swims.

While all of the Bears will likely all score points either individual or from the relays, the best bets to make the top 8 A-Finals are Weitzeil and Amy Bilquist in 50 Free, Weitzeil in 100 Free, Dutch Calympian Robin Neumann in 200 Free, Baker in 100 and 200 Back, Canadian Calympian Noemie Thomas in 200 Fly, Thomas and Katie McLaughlin in 100 Fly, Baker and freshman Sarah Darcel in 200 IM, and Darcel in 400 IM.

Bears won 4 relays at the Pac-12 few weeks ago. They used the following lineups: 200 Medley relay: Baker (back), Weitzeil (breast), Thomas (fly), Bilquist (free); 800 Free: Neumann, Baker, McLaughlin, Bilquist; 200 Free: Murphy, Bilquist, McLaughlin, Weitzeil; and 400 Free: Bilquist, McLaughlin, Baker, Weitzeil.

Of course, Bilquist, McLaughlin, Baker, and Weitzeil were a part of that dream recruiting class 3 years ago (Weitzeil ends up deferring to concentrate on making the 2016 Rio Olympics) for Cal Women’s Swimming on the heel of Missy Franklin leading the Bears to that 2015 NCAA team national championship title. May this Cal quartet have a memorable NCAA full of national championships.