2011 was a big year for Cal aquatics — specifically for the men’s and women’s swimming teams. Both squads conquered their respective swimming worlds, bringing national championships back to Berkeley.
For the men, this was hardly surprising. Led by an unrivaled senior class, one that produced eight individual national titles and contributed to seven relay crowns, the Bears were heavy title favorites from the get-go.
The women, however, weren’t as highly touted from the outset. Despite being only two years removed from winning it all, few considered Cal to be a legitimate contender at nationals — a notion that was reaffirmed by an early-season loss to Texas. But the Bears took the lead on the second day of NCAAs, and remained atop the standings for the duration of the meet — and the season.
Both squads must now replace big names — most notably, all-world swimmer Nathan Adrian and two-time 100-yard butterfly champion Amanda Sims. However, both the men and the women have swimmers who are more than ready to cement their own place in Cal aquatics history. Tom Shields won the 100 fly in 2010 and was a member of 2011’s first-place 400 free relay team, while women’s MVP Liv Jensen contributed to three relay titles in Austin, Texas.
However, it’s hard to imagine the men won’t have a drop off in 2012. They lose two of the world’s top sprinters in Adrian — who many believe could win two individual gold medals in London next summer — and Graeme Moore. The departures will do a number on both the freestyle squad and the team’s relays.
Cal is boasting one of the top recruiting classes in the nation and has plenty of young talent to step up, but there will likely be some kind of transition period.
The women, however, should be just as strong — if not stronger — in 2012. They are ripe with returning talent, led by Jensen, who will look to three-peat in the 50 freestyle. Caitlin Leverenz and 100-yard backstroke champion Cindy Tran return, as well. All three will look to defend their individual titles as well as the team crown.
This time around, however, it won’t surprise anyone.
Image Source: Shannon Hamilton/Staff