Swimming past the competition has become the standard routine for the No. 12 Cal women’s swim team, as the team cruised to victory yet again this past Friday, beating Washington State 155-97 in the Bears’ first home meet of the season.
“I thought the girls swam great,” said Cal assistant head coach Ian Walsh. “I thought, as a team, one of our goals was to have fun and race hard, and I think we definitely accomplished that this meet. We had a lot of parents in the stands, and there’s nothing like a home atmosphere. This year we have several home meets so we’re excited to continue on with our home schedule.”
The meet was nearly a sweep for the Bears, who won 13 of the 14 events. The only event WSU placed first in was the 100-yard breaststroke, where freshman Angela Mavrantza won with a time of 1:04.01, edging out Cal’s Maija Roses (1:04.28).
Other than that, the meet was dominated by Cal. Leading the way for the Bears was senior Celina Li, who placed first in the 200-yard butterfly, 200-yard breaststroke and 400-yard individual medley. Two-time Olympic medalist Kathleen Baker sat out the meet again, likely because of Cal head coach Tara McKeever’s decision to give the freshmen a chance to show off their swimming prowess in front of the home crowd for the first time.
Cal freshmen Abbey Weitzeil, Courtney Mykkanen and Chenoa Devine made their first home meet a memorable one, as each of the three won an event. Weitzeil, a two-time Olympic medalist and American record holder in the 50-yard freestyle, naturally made quick work of the competition in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 22.26. Devine won the 500-yard freestyle in 4:53.91, while Mykkanen took the 200-yard backstroke in 2:00.22.
“[The freshmen] just continue to surprise us,” Walsh said. “They’re just a fun group of kids. Tara and I really enjoy working with them and they definitely bring a contagiously fun environment.”
Another Cal swimmer that stood out at the meet was sophomore Jenna Campbell, who won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:49.86, just barely edging out Devine by 1/10th of a second. The win for Campbell demonstrated her marked improvement in the pool compared to her performance freshman year.
“[Campbell] had really tough back-to-back swims, coming out of the two free and then going into the two fly,” Walsh said. “Just a really gutsy swim. She had a lot of team support behind her so it was a lot of fun to see her get up and race.”
Rounding out the victories for the Bears were swimmers Katie McLaughlin, Kristen Vredeveld, Farida Osman and Noemie Thomas. McLaughlin coasted in the 1,000-yard freestyle with a time of 9:58.16, 12 seconds faster than any other competitor. Vredeveld placed first in the 100-yard backstroke while Osman won the 100-yard freestyle. Thomas would capture the 100-yard butterfly.
Jeffrey Liu covers men’s tennis. Contact him at [email protected]