No. 3 Cal women’s swim rests key contributors, finishes last at Fresno State Bulldog Invitational

Katherine Chen/File

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The Cal women’s swim team sent a 10-member squad to the Fresno State Bulldog Invitational over the weekend to get some early season racing practice, and coaches were pleased with the results, even though the Bears finished last out of four teams.

The No.3 Bears, with 591 points, finished behind Boise State (1,232 points), Fresno State (765.5 points) and San Jose State (751.5 points).

The Bears, coming off of victories against Oregon State (161-95) and Washington State (164-89) in the past two weekends, decided not to send the entire team to this weekend’s invitational. According to assistant coach Kristen Cunnane, coaches decided to send part of the team to Washington last weekend for a “conference-mandated” meet and decided to send the other part of the team to the Bulldog Invitational.

“A lot of thought went into thinking about what the athletes would get out of (each meet),” Cunnane said.

Cunnane also said that while she wasn’t actually at the meet over the weekend, she thought the results looked good on paper.

“It’s not about looking at times but about getting good racing under our belts and working on turns and technique,” Cunnane said. “For what we wanted to accomplish, I think it was a successful meet.”

Cal came away with two individual victories: freshman Sophia Batchelor in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:02.72 and junior Camille Cheng in the 200-yard freestyle with a season-best time of 1:51.10, two-hundredths of a second ahead of a swimmer from Boise State.

Cheng said she got good feedback about the race.

“I’m pretty happy about where I am,” Cheng said. “There’s always room for improvement, but I’m not that far off from where I want to be.”

A number of swimmers placed third in their respective races: freshman Farida Osman in the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 56.59, senior Melissa Bates in the 100-yard backstroke in 1:05.61 and Batchelor in the 100-yard backstroke in 58.64. Cal’s 200-yard freestyle relay team of Osman, Bates, junior Mikkel-Ane Stipe and Cheng placed third, as did the 400-yard free relay team of Bates, Stipe, freshman Taylor Young and Cheng.

In the 50-yard freestyle, Osman finished third with a time of 23.75. In the same race, Cheng finished eighth in 24.26, and freshman Abi Speers finished 12th in 24.89.

Cheng also finished second in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 51.00, which beat the previous pool record. In the 200-yard individual medley, Bates finished fourth and Young finished fifth, about a second apart.

In the 200-yard medley relay, the Cal A team of Stipe, Bates, Osman and Cheng finished second behind the Boise State A team. The Bears’ B team — Greene, Young, Batchelor and Speers — finished sixth in the relay.

Cheng said it was nice to be in a smaller group and to “change it up a little bit.” She said the meet was not so much a tactical-type meet as it was about preparing mentally for the rest of the season.

“We’re not expected to be in top shape,” Cheng said. “People were swimming events that they don’t usually swim and swam more than they were used to.”

The full Cal team will be back competing next weekend, when Cal takes on No. 1 Florida at home.

Contact Shannon Carroll at [email protected]