Breed impresses in Cal debut

The meet was billed as Cal women’s swimming vs. Washington State.

In reality, it was more of a Cal vs. Cal meet as most races featured Bears battling their teammates for the wins.

With Cal swimmers sweeping most races, the Bears routed the Cougars with a 160 to 89 final score on Friday at Spieker Aquatics Complex. The win allowed the defending national champion Bears to continue their undefeated streak, improving to 3-0, while the Cougars fell to 0-4.

“We didn’t come into this meet planning to dominate,” assistant coach Kristen Cunnane said. “We are more concerned with where we are in our path for the year.”

So far, the team is right on track as it finished out the dual meets for the fall with victories over Oregon State, Utah and Washington State.

Cunnane said the team’s younger members as reason for optimism as the team looks forward. The freshman class as a whole had a great performance, and freshman Catherine Breed and sophomore Meilssa Bates had standout days. Breed made her Cal debut on Friday and made quite a splash as she won her first two collegiate races. Swimming in back-to-back events, she punctuated her victory in the 1,000 free with a first place finish in the 200 free immediately after.

“The 1,000 free is a distance event, so it’s a different type of race,” Breed said. “I sat in the water after and hopped up for the 200 free. The first 100 were hard, and then I got into it and was able to come back and win it on the last 100.”

Breed started the season late because she was participating in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she won two gold medals for the United States.

Both she and Bates said that Friday’s individual victories gave them confidence going forward, especially as young swimmers on the highly competitive Cal team. Bates finished the day with victories in both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke.

She edged out teammates Yvette Kong and Liv Jensen to claim victory in the 100. Jensen, a senior freestyler, had three victories for the day, winning the 100-yard freestyle and anchoring the winning 400-yard medley relay and the 200-yard freestyle relay.

“The competition within the team is really strong, and it makes me want to go harder in practice and in each meet,” Bates said. “It is good to have a couple of wins. It helps get me fired up for the next couple of races and keep the competitive edge.”

The Bears as a team are trying to maintain excellence on their quest to defend their championship title. While this meet provided a positive outcome, it is merely a step to achieving their overall goal; the Bears continue to look within themselves for competition and improvement.

“Instead of looking at dominance or winning or losing, we look at where we are in the season,” Cunnane said. “We are right where we want to be for right now. We are happy with the performance and it feels like we are moving forward.”