Stanford showed why they are ranked No.1 in the country for dual meet season (which is a very different scoring system and not a very good indicator for NCAA championships success) on Saturday afternoon with a resounding 192-107 win over the Cal Bears in Berkeley. Unlike when the Cal men conceded the remaining events to the USC Trojans after clinching the win, Stanford (led by former Cal men’s swimming assistant coach Greg Meehan) did no such thing (I don’t really understand these swimming meet etiquette, actually.)
Nonetheless, the Bears did have some bright spots, led by the two wins by senior Katie McLaughlin in 200 Free and 100 Fly in her final race at Spieker. Fellow senior Amy Bilquist won the 100 Back. Junior Abbey Weitzeil set yet another 100 Free pool record as well as winning the 50 Free again. Bears also won the 200 medley relay that opened the meet, using the quartet of Bilquist, Ema Rajic, Maddie Murphy, and Weitzeil.
Stanford senior Ella Eastin won 3 events: 200 Fly, 200 Back, and 200 IM and set pool records in all three. 200 Back and 200 IM were amongst Kathleen Baker’s specialties, so beating those records is no small feat.
The Pac-12 Championships is next, starting on February 28th from Federal Way, Washington.
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!
No Kathleen Baker nor Katie Ledecky this year (as the Cal and Stanford superstars have turned pro), but plenty of swimming star power will still be present at Spieker Aquatic Complex this Saturday when the California Golden Bears women’s swimming and diving hosts rival Stanford Cardinal for another aquatic showdown.
Saturday would be the lesser of two back-to-back showdowns between Cal and Stanford. The Pac-12 Championships next week will also go to one of the schools. For the 2019 NCAA, there are other schools (Michigan, Georgia, etc.) that will also be in the mix.
The CSCAA Dual Meet Poll (designed more to measure dual meet results than the NCAA results...the two may be very, very different) have Stanford at No.1 (up from No.3) while the Cal Bears sit at No.6.
Nevertheless, this year’s meet should be much closer than last year’s easy win by Stanford.
Even with some boost from new enrollees like Izzy Ivey and Chloe Clark this semester, there are some clear holes in the Cal lineup. Bears only won 10 of 16 races against USC last time out, but did dominate (with 1-2 finishes) in the events that they win at.
Abbey Weitzeil has become the clear top sprinter (50 Free and 100 Free) in the country now that her rival (and Stanford alum) Simone Manuel is gone from the college scene. With the times trending down as we approach the key month of the season, Weitzeil might lower her own Spieker record in these two events even more on Saturday. Weitzeil has also swam some 50 Fly and 100 Fly but I think Cal head coach Teri McKeever will have Abbey at her best events on Saturday (although sometimes, the goal of these meets are more about qualifying swimmers for the NCAA than that meet results).
Katie McLaughlin have recaptured her mojo in her senior year - becoming a force in 500 Free, 100 Fly, and 200 Fly for the Bears. Coming a long way since she hurt her neck in training her freshman year, McLaughlin has a good shot at becoming a US Olympian next year.
Amy Bilquist has emerged from the shadow of Kathleen Baker as one of the top backstroker for the Bears. Bears have some depth there with freshmen Isabel Ivey and junior Keaton Blovad.
Breaststroke is a weak point for the Bears with freshman Ema Rajic the go to in the 200 medley relay. Abbey Weitzeil is perhaps the next best breaststroker but she’s obviously the best choice for the anchor freestyle.
For the butterfly, Ivey and junior Maddie Murphy are some depth behind McLaughlin.
For the longer freestyle, Bears lack an impact distance swimmer. Sophomore Robin Neumann (Dutch Olympian) is one of the better 200 Free swimmer on the squad. I also have some high hope of freshman Cassidy Bayer dropping some time in this stage of her first season.
Sophomore Sarah Darcel is the top 200 IM swimmer for the Golden Bears. Freshman Alicia Wilson will also compete in this event (there is no 400 IM in the dual meet). I believe that Darcel has the B-standard time but Wilson still is a second or so out.
For the two relays: the optimal Cal line-ups are perhaps Bilquist (Back), Rajic (Breast), McLaughlin (Fly), and Weitzeil for the 200 Medley relay and Neumann, Murphy, Bilquist, and Weitzeil for the 400 Free relay.
For Stanford, Ella Eastin is now the most prominent swimmer on that team. Eastin is one of the best 200 Fly swimmer and really battled Kathleen Baker last year in the 200 IM. Eastin can also post good 100/200 Free times.
Katie Drabot is another Cardinal who have scored NCAA points for them in the past.
There are also a lot of talented new faces for the Cardinal. Freshman Taylor Ruck is their top sprinter as well as backstroke (NCAA B-qualifying times for both). Fellow freshman Zoe Bartel is their best breastroker (NCAA B-qualifying times).
Yes, the Stanford website has more readily available the top times for the athletes than Cal’s website.
By the way, for those wondering, the 2019 NCAA A- and B- Standard times (the time that a swimmer needs to best to be invited to the NCAA championships) can be found here.
This should be a fun meet, particularly given the number of first timers on both side who are facing the toughest stretches of the season.
Bears will also celebrate their 5 seniors on Saturday: swimmers Amy Bilquist, Katie McLaughlin, and Jenna Campbell to go with divers Phoebe LaMay and Alexa Cacao.
The 5 seniors write about their Cal experiences and how it transformed them as people:
Ahead of our final home meet of the season Saturday vs. Stanford, we asked our five seniors to sum up their Cal careers as students and athletes.https://t.co/iN2M3HAqFo— Cal W Swim & Dive (@CalWSwim) February 15, 2019
Lumping in Kathleen Baker (who turned pro and gave up his last year of eligibility) and Abbey Weitzeil (who enrolled an year late) - two Bears who have already been an Olympian in the 2016 Rio games, Amy Bilquist and Katie McLaughlin were a key class of Bears that arrived after Missy Franklin had turned pro. The foursome signing with the Bears gave a lot of Cal fans some unreal expectations. Somewhat unfortunate for them was the fact that a year later, Katie Ledecky opt to go to Stanford which turned into a pair of NCAA titles for them in the last two years. The accomplishment of these Cal Bears may have been overshadowed, but they certainly continued the rich tradition of Cal Women’s Swimming during their 4 years in the program.
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Tomorrow will be my last time competing in Spieker and in front of a home crowd. I just wanted to take this sappy opportunity to thank everyone that has helped me get to this point in my career. . . It’s been a long road through many ups and downs, injuries and health issues but I would not trade this journey for the world. Thank you to my family for ALWAYS supporting me, my friends for always understanding my practice schedule, thank you to my teammates for being some of the most amazing people I’ve been lucky enough to be around @calwswim , thank you to all of my coaches along the way (@coach_mckeever , @coach_dunleavy , @ianpwalsh , @lovewick , @cwplumb , @ianjmurray77 , @courageandperseverance , Bob Platt, @scottsdaleswim , @kevin.zacher , Matt, @ywsfins especially Ryan Kent, and many more). Also, thank you to the amazing medical staff at Cal especially @anncaslin who have kept me in one piece throughout this journey. While my swimming journey is not over yet, I feel so blessed for every single opportunity Cal has afforded me and I am so thankful to have the honor to race in Spieker one last time for the best damn public university in the world. GO BEARS!
Up next for the Golden Bears is the Pac-12 Championships on February 27th to March 2nd in Federal Way, Washington. The main goal of the season, of course, is to peak during the NCAA Championships on March 20th to 23rd from Austin, Texas.
California Women’s Swimming and Diving vs. Stanford
When: Saturday, February 16th | 12:00 NOON PT
Where: Spieker Aquatics Complex (Berkeley, CA)
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Joe Castellano and Amy Van Dyken)