When the buzzer sounds, there is no room for a managerial gimmick, a spontaneous trick play or an ill-timed turnover. Meets are won or lost based on two elements only: the swimmer and the clock.
The no-frills approach of Cal women’s swim yielded a solid victory over Washington State in Pullman on Saturday. Though the Cougars set nine season-best times, the No. 5 Bears notched wins in 13 of 14 events, comfortably seeing off Washington State by a score of 158-95. The win brings the Bears to 2-0 on the season and drops the Cougars to 3-3.
The Bears’ relay squad delivered yet again Saturday, as Sophie Krivokapic-Zhou, Ema Rajic, Abbey Weitzeil and Alicia Wilson set a new pool record of 1:42.51 in the 200-yard medley relay, topping the venue’s previous best by a mere 0.01 second.
Weitzeil, who won three individual events against Utah, came through with wins in both the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard freestyle. The junior’s time of 49.42 in the latter event set a new pool benchmark.
Veteran senior Katie McLaughlin won the 50 free and the 400 IM, besting sophomore Robin Neumann by a second in the former. Neumann would go on to win the 500 free, again displaying her consistency after her two freestyle event wins against Utah.
The freshman class shone in Pullman, with Ema Rajic, Cassidy Bayer and Elise Garcia earning event wins.
Rajic had not won an individual event prior to Saturday; however, that seemed like an afterthought as the Illinois-born freshman swept both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events by more than a second each. Elise Garcia, who won the 100-yard butterfly against the Utes, repeated with a win in the same event.
Meanwhile, Bayer showed no signs of complacency after her win in the 200 butterfly at Cal’s last dual meet.
She, like Garcia, took home the same event with a time of 1:59.97. Bayer also swam a distance race in the 1,000 free, winning by more than 20 seconds with a time of 10:14.01.
Though not quite the 10:03.58 time of sophomore Neumann, the fact that the members of the freshman class are more than capable of swimming their off events should provide coach Teri McKeever with the roster depth needed for a title push this year.
The Bears return home to host current No. 1 Texas at noon Nov. 10. The Longhorns will be one day removed from a thrilling matchup at No. 2 Stanford on Nov. 9, while Cal has a week off before its showdown with Texas.
Rest assured, fans can expect a straightforward, hotly contested meet Saturday. The Bears will look to play spoiler to the Longhorns’ tour of the West Coast and their undefeated status, should Stanford fail to dent Texas’ 3-0 record Friday.
Chanun Ong covers women’s swimming and diving. Contact him at [email protected].