After winning the Georgia Fall Invitational, the Cal women’s swim and dive team can lay claim to being the best in the country.
Nevermind Cal’s No. 10 national ranking. The Bears defeated three of the top 10 teams in the country, and it was not even close. Cal finished first with 914 points overall, a comfortable margin ahead of the reigning champ, No. 2 Georgia. Coming into the invitational, the Lady Bulldogs had won 102 consecutive dual or tri home meets, dating all the way back to 1995. Although this event was not a dual or tri meet, beating Georgia in its own house was still an impressive feat nonetheless.
Meanwhile, No. 5 Virginia finished third with 716 points, No. 4 Michigan came in fourth with 641 points and Florida State placed fifth with 403 points to round out the top five.
“I was really proud of our performance this weekend,” said Cal head coach Teri McKeever. “We have 12 women who swam a time under what was invited to the NCAA Championships last year, so that puts us in good shape looking down the road. There’s a lot to be proud of and a lot to build on.”
In nearly every event, it seemed the Bears were posting personal bests and/or swimming qualifying times for the NCAA Championships in March.
Cal’s relay teams were absolutely dominant. In the 200-yard free relay, the foursome of Abbey Weitzeil, Amy Bilquist, Valerie Hull and Farida Osman set a school record with a time of 1:26.31, which was also good for fastest in the country this season. And in the 200-yard medley relay, Bilquist, Weitzeil, Noemie Thomas and Osman finished in 1:35.19, the second-fastest time in the country so far this year and the third-fastest in school history. No matter the length of the relay, Cal’s teams were always competitive. Even some of Cal’s B teams in the relays placed under the NCAA A standard time, such as in the 400-yard free relay.
The Olympians for Cal made quick work of their collegiate competition. Weitzeil, a two-time Olympic medalist, was the fastest qualifier in the 50-yard free with an A time of 21.64. She also reached the NCAA A standard with a 47.22 in the 100-yard free, which ranks second nationally. Fellow Olympian Kathleen Baker touched first in 1:49.83 in the 200-yard back.
Cal also displayed its depth throughout the meet in each event. Thomas swam personal bests in the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard butterfly with times of 50.67 and 1:53.77, respectively, and she now ranks first nationally in the 100-yard butterfly. Senior Marina Garcia posted a lifetime best in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:08.64. Katie McLaughlin, Chenoa Devine and Jenna Campbell all made the B cut for the 500-yard free.
All in all, Cal put on quite the show this weekend. If the NCAA Championships were held today, the Bears would definitely be the frontrunners. But for now, they’ll settle in for the holidays knowing they’re exactly where they want to be.
Jeffrey Liu covers women’s swimming and women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected]