The shortest day of the year certainly felt that way for the Bears, who made quick work of the Spartans as both teams head into the holidays.
The No. 2 Cal women’s swim and dive team easily swam past San Jose State at home by a score of 178 to 113. The Bears won 13 of the 16 events hosted and looked sharp in their final meet of the calendar year.
Cal clearly showed no signs of slowing down after winning the Georgia Fall Invitational back in early December. During the invite, the Bears recorded 15 swims that reached the NCAA A qualifying standard for the national championships in March. Of the 15 swims, 10 were individual and five were relays. Cal’s strong performance over ranked teams like then-No. 2 Georgia, then-No. 4 Michigan, and then-No. 5 Virginia catapulted its ranking from 10th to second in the latest coaches’ poll.
Cal’s home dual meet against San Jose State comes during a stretch where the Bears are training at a very high level. Over the past two months, the Bears have only competed three times, including the dual meet against the Spartans.
“The goal for today was to give us the opportunity to swim some different things and have a racing experience,” said Cal head coach Teri McKeever. “When we go from the first part of December until mid-January, that’s a long time. As a coach, you like a month where we can just focus on training, and to put a racing experience in there breaks it up a bit.”
Cal will not face another opponent for about four weeks, when they start head to head competition against Pac-12 teams. With so much time to train during the winter, the Bears are preparing themselves to be in peak condition in the spring when the stakes are a lot higher.
But for now, the Bears saw the meet as a fun break in the midst of all their training. Senior Celina Li won two events during the meet: the 100-yard freestyle in 51.68 and the 200-yard breast in 2:18.91. Sophomores Katie McLaughlin and Amy Bilquist both won two events as well, with McLaughlin taking the 200-yard butterfly in 1:59.83 and the 200-yard individual medley in 2:03.89.
The Olympians for Cal also posted some nice times as well. Cal freshman Abbey Weitzeil, Olympic sprint freestylist, won the 100-yard individual medley in 55.94, an event that was inserted instead of the usual 1000-yard freestyle. Kathleen Baker, the Olympic silver medalist in the 100-yard back, won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:03.22, an event where Weitzeil placed fourth.
Cal junior Noemie Thomas reinforced her status as the national leader in the 100-yard butterfly by winning the event in 53.66. Last but not least, freshmen Anina Lund and Maddie Murphy swam well in the 200-yard free with times of 1:53.93 and 1:53.99, respectively.
After a lengthy hiatus, the Bears return to action on the road for a weekend trip against Arizona and Arizona State on Jan. 20 and 21.
Jeffrey Liu covers women’s swimming. Contact him at [email protected]