The undefeated Bears hit the road this past weekend but came back home with a blemish on their previously perfect dual-meet record.
The No. 1 Cal women’s swim team, which was flying high after an 80-point win over Arizona on Jan. 25, crashed against No. 5 USC on Friday, losing 180.5-119.5 and taking only four of the 16 events. The Bears were able to split the weekend with a 187.5-112.5 win over No. 17 UCLA the next day.
The meet against USC started with a Trojan victory in the 200 medley race. The Bears (7-1) came out strong, holding the top two spots after 50 yards. But USC (6-0) shut the lead down quickly when Kasey Carlson’s breaststroke overcame the Cal team and put the Trojans up front. USC maintained the lead for the rest of the race, and the Bears finished second and third.
After that, the meet only seemed to go downhill, with the exception of Missy Franklin. Franklin won the 1000 free with a time of 9:47.44, her fastest time of the season, and earned her fifth place on the Bears’ all-time list.
Despite Franklin’s consistency the past couple of weeks, she too fell short for Cal when she took second place in the 500-yard event, losing to USC’s Chelsea Chenault, 4:46.88 to 4:47.14.
The Trojans took the top two places in the 200 free, and USC’s Kendyl Stewart outraced the Bears’ Stephanie Au in the 100 back. The Trojans then went on to place first and second in the 100 breast and extended their win streak to five with a first-place finish by Kasia Wilk in the 50 free.
“We weren’t quite as sharp as we were last week,” said head coach Teri McKeever. “To USC’s credit, they did a great job. They were ready to go from the get-go.”
After the disappointing loss to USC, the Bears traveled to UCLA (8-3) the next day to take on the Bruins in their second-to-last dual-meet of the season.
Unlike the previous day, Cal took the top two positions in the 200 medley relay when the foursome of Rachel Bootsma, Yvette Kong, Cindy Tran and Kaylin Bing won with a time of 1:40.04, with Au, Melissa Bates, Farida Osman and Camille Cheng right behind with 1:40.59.
Elizabeth Pelton also bounced back with a strong showing against the Bruins, winning the 100 back in 54.24. Following Pelton’s victory was Au and Bootsma, who took the second and third spot, with times of 54.41 and 54.74, respectively.
The entire Cal team seemed to improve from the previous day, with the Bears going 1-2-3 in the 400 individual medley. Cal also finished strong with the final race of the day, with Bing, Tran, Osman and Franklin winning the 200 free relay. They also managed to set a meet-record time of 1:30.87, breaking the mark of 1:31.49 set by Cal in 2009.
“Yesterday, I felt we got caught on our heels, and today we were in a much better place, taking care of our own business and doing what we need to do,” McKeever said. “For the most part, I am really pleased with the results.”