Cal women’s swim hosts third home meet of season against Wisconsin

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Andrew Peng/File

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For the third week in the row, the Cal women’s swim team will take to the Spieker Aquatics Complex, but this time with a special guest: The Bears will swim in a dual meet with the men’s swim team against Wisconsin on Friday at 1 p.m. The winners of the NCAA championships last year, the men’s team may not feature the recognizable names the womens’ does, but they have been much more successful winning championships, having won three in the last four years.

“I really like the chance to have a dual meet with the men’s team because it brings a different kind of energy,” said Cal associate head coach Kristen Cunnane. “It’s a good learning experience to see them race and see what they are doing. Year in and year out, they are definitely one of the top teams in the country.”

Cal will be swimming at home against Wisconsin for the third year in a row. The Bears won the past two meetings in dominant fashion, defeating the Badgers 163-111 last year and 170-110 in 2012. Wisconsin’s head coach, Whitney Hite, was the assistant for Cal head coach Teri McKeever from 2004 to 2006.

The Bears are coming off a tough loss to Texas last week, 161-139. Cal was unable to close out the meet and ended up losing their early lead. Despite the loss, junior Elizabeth Pelton had a dominating performance, winning three individual events. Sophomore Missy Franklin also won two events, the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle, finishing in 1:47.37 and 50.13, respectively.

“I think we definitely learned a lot from the Texas meet,” Cunnane said. “We’re going to take that and try to be a little be tougher, a little bit sharper.”

Wisconsin (1-2) is coming into the meet off a loss against Minnesota, 95-203. In the meet, senior Ivy Martin won both the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle and also placed second in the 100-yard butterfly. The Badgers won their first meet of the season Oct. 3, against Arizona State, 142-94, where they won 11 events.

Martin has the fastest 50-yard freestyle time in women’s college swimming, 22.31. Martin is known for her sprinting abilities and could pose a potential problem for the Bears, who don’t have a sprinter of Martin’s caliber. Also for the Badgers, junior Jenny Holtzen has reached personal best times in the 500- and 1,000-yard freestyles. In fact, Wisconsin’s fast start has included seven swimmers reaching new personal bests.

“Swimming against Wisconsin is always fun,” Cunnane said. “(Hite is) definitely building an outstanding program at Wisconsin, so (we are) really grateful they will come all this way to race us.”

Cal will not return back home until Jan. 30, so they hope to have a positive performance at home before they head on the road.

“I think just capitalizing on having the home crowd and the men there with us, capitalizing on that energy and taking into our racing,” Cunnane said. “We are definitely hoping for a good home crowd; the weather is supposed to be really nice, swimming with the men’s team will hopefully, get a bigger crowd and some more energy. We’ll bring our energy, and it will be a good.”

Alaina Getzenberg covers women’s swim. Contact her at [email protected]