Coming off of their first invitational win of the fall season, the defending NCAA champion Bears are 3-0 in conference dual meets and possess a perfect record thus far.
Perfect records, however, are only determined at the end of the season, and for No. 2 Cal to claim such a feat for the fall they must overcome one final hurdle: No. 1 Georgia.
The top two teams in the nation will face off at the Georgia Fall Invitational this Friday through Sunday, December 2-4 at Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Ga.
Both teams head into the meet with wins at their last events. The Bears are coming off a trouncing of rival Stanford at the Arena Invitational in Long Beach.
“I think we did a nice job at the Arena Invite, but even though we won there are a lot of things we can do a lot better,” Cunnane said. “This meet is the last meet of the fall so we want to be sharp at this meet and get ready for a good winter training.”
Georgia will also enter the meet perfect thus far as well, and the Bulldogs’ most recent win over Emory tied a school record in most consecutive home victories. The host team has not lost a home meet since 1995.
The Bears will look to upset this streak when they throw weapons such as junior Caitlin Leverenz, who holds the fastest 200 IM time in the nation, and freshman phenom Catherine Breed, who has already won gold medals for the United States at the international level this season.
The Bulldogs will likely counter with middle distance freestylers Wendy Trott, the reigning SEC Female Swimmer of the Week, and Amber McDermott, who claimed individual and relay victories in her last meet. Both are poised to challenge Cal with close races.
“They have a history of having very good 200 and 500 freestylers,” Cunnane said. “But that is an area where we have gotten stronger this year, so it will be exciting to see how we do against them in the middle-distance freestyle races”
Also in the mix are No. 6 Auburn, Virginia, Indiana, UNC-Wilmington and Harvard.
This meet may serve as a preview for the spring postseason, as three of the nation’s top 10 teams will duke it out, each with the hopes of finishing the fall in dominant fashion. The meet will be a good measure of evaluating where the team is and where it hopes to be, as the Bears face their first real possibility of defeat.
“What will it take to beat Georgia?” Cunnane contemplated. “If I knew the answer we would be done with the season.”