Having easily swum past the competition in its first two dual meets of the season, the No. 18 Cal women’s swim team will have an opportunity to see where it stands among the country’s best when it takes on No. 3 Texas this Friday in Berkeley.
The Bears are coming off another bye week, after a scheduled dual meet at home against Nevada on Nov. 4 was canceled. In Cal’s previous meet Oct. 21, the Bears made quick work of Washington State, winning by a score of 155-97. With 20 days between meets, Cal has been hard at work in practice.
“We’ve really been just focusing on the details,” said assistant head coach Ian Walsh. “As you work through a year, I think there’s a lot of ways we can be better, focusing on things individually and working on things that we’ve just been trying to improve on.”
Meanwhile, the Longhorns are coming off a successful weekend, knocking off rival then-No. 14 Texas A&M and then-No. 4 NC State to improve to 6-0 on the season. Texas has a deep and talented roster as head coach Carol Capitani has returned 22 swimmers and divers from a roster that won the Big 12 Championship and finished 15th overall in the NCAA Championships last season.
Senior Madisyn Cox leads the way for the Longhorns and was named the National Swimmer of the Week by CollegeSwimming.com after winning all five of her events against the Aggies and Wolfpack. So far this season, the 10-time All American has top-10 national marks in the 200 individual medley (second, 1:57.03), 100 breaststroke (fourth, 1:00.39), 200 breaststroke (fifth, 2:10.40) and the 200 freestyle (sixth, 1:45.96). Fellow senior Tasija Karosas will be another swimmer to look out for. Karosas is also a 10-time All American and holds school and Big 12 records in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events.
“(Texas) is a great team,” Walsh said. “We don’t try to put any added pressure on ourselves, whether we’re racing a more competitive team, I think it’s just approaching your events and taking care of what you can take care of. I don’t think facing a top-ranked team changes anything you do when you step on the block, so as far as our mindset, it’s just putting our best foot forward and making sure we execute what we need to be successful in that race.”
So far this season, the Bears have performed well under the leadership of head coach Teri McKeever and co-captains Kristen Vredeveld and Farida Osman. Cal boasts some star power of its own as well, in two-time Olympic medalists Kathleen Baker and Abbey Weitzeil. Baker, who has sat out the past two meets, should get a chance to swim in front of the home crowd for the first time this season.
“We’re just excited to have Texas,” Walsh said. “Every time they come here to Berkeley, it’s a great meet, so we’re looking forward to having a great competition on Friday.”
Jeffrey Liu covers women’s swimming. Contact him at [email protected]