People will argue that money does or does not buy happiness, but most would agree that at the very least it allows for opportunity. With security, one can take risks and gambles. Cal women’s swim, a team rich in talent, will not only host Oregon State in its home opener this Friday, but will also face a No. 13 North Carolina State on Saturday. The Bears will have the luxury of going into the OSU meet with bit of strategy, and will look to cash out with back-to-back wins.
“(The team) has stepped it up across the board in terms of training and I think we’re ready to see some of our best swimming so far of the the fall,” said Cal assistant coach Sarah Dunleavy.
Stanford obviously isn’t too keen on the Bears — let alone the idea of helping them — but whether the Cardinal likes it or not, it will be giving Cal a hand as it prepares to take on OSU.
Stanford, the No.1 ranked team in the nation, will host OSU on Thursday, in what is sure to be a body blow to the Beavers. A likely exhausted OSU team will then head to Cal to take on the No. 7 team in the nation — ultimately, a double-header from hell that will give Cal some wiggle room to decide which swimmers will compete.
In last year’s meet, the Bears pummeled the Beavers and took every single event in a 163-88 win. Cal showed out despite the fact that one of its best stars, now-junior Kathleen Baker, was not competing. This season, not much should change.
“We’ll probably put people in some off events on Friday and then try to be pretty sharp on Saturday,” Dunleavy said. “The girls have been looking really good at practice and training really well and we’ve seen a lot of good consistency out of them there. I think that’s going to translate over into racing.”
In 2016, a few Bears in particular put the team on their back. Junior Amy Bilquist found herself at the top in all four events that she competed in — two individual races (100 and 200-yard backstroke) and two relays (400 medley and 200 freestyle).
Bilquist and junior Katie McLaughlin were a one-three punch as McLaughlin was the opening leg and Bilquist was the third in their relay wins. McLaughlin did not let Bilquist have all the fun in the individual events, however, and came away with a win of her own in the 200-yard butterfly. If both swimmers get the chance, they are likely to break up some Beaver dams.
Cal recently dropped in the national ranking from No. 2 to No. 7 — but don’t change your bets just yet.
“At this point in the season we kind of tune (rankings) out,” Dunleavy said. “We have not really put in a best lineup yet. I think those things early on are somewhat telling, but not really the whole picture.”
OSU will not be the make or break moment for the Bears, and they will not headline their best lineup, but Cal should have a relatively easy time with the Beavers and then move its focus to a bigger threat in NC State.
Christie Aguilar covers women’s swim. Contact her at [email protected]