Cal women’s swim bounces back from Texas loss to dominate Wisconsin

Andrew Peng/File

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On a day when the crowd was large, the sun was shining and Cal swimming alumni filled the stands, the Cal women’s swim had a comeback performance after their loss to Texas last week. Defeating Wisconsin 161-124, the Bears bounced back and brought their record to 2-1.

The meet included both the Cal men’s and women’s swim teams, together for the first time this season. The men also defeated the Badgers, 169-116.

“I love racing with the men; they do a great job,” said Cal associate head coach Kristen Cunnane. “Obviously, I believe they are the best team in the country, year in and year out. Just a really good learning experience to watch the men race to see what they do well, especially in and around the wall, the turns and the starts, really good learning opportunities for us.”

No. 19 Wisconsin came out with a strong start, winning the first two events, the 200-yard medley relay and the 1,000-yard freestyle, with a strong long-distance performance from junior Jenny Holtzen in 10:01.84.

But in the third event, the tides turned in No. 4 Cal’s favor as junior Elizabeth Pelton recorded yet another dominant performance in the 200-yard freestyle, 1:47.58. The Bears finished in the top three spots in the race with senior Caroline Piehl taking second, 1:50.37, and freshman Cierra Runge taking third, 1:51.15. Pelton finished off her performance by winning a second race, the 200-yard backstroke.

In the next race, the 100-yard backstroke, the Bears again took the top-three spots race, with sophomore Missy Franklin taking the top spot with a time of 54.36. Junior Kelly Naze, 56.15 and freshman Jasmine Mau, 56.32, followed behind and kept racking up points for Cal.
After placing second in the 1,000-yard freestyle, sophomore Marina Garcia came back and dominated both breaststroke races of the day. She first won the 100-yard breast in 1:02.93, and Garcia finished almost a whole second ahead of Wisconsin junior Anna Meinholz’s time of 1:03.84.

Garcia followed up the performance with an even stronger race in the 200-yard breast, 2:15.79, defeating Meinholz by over three seconds.

“It was really good,” Garcia said. “I felt really good after the 1,000, then the two breast, one breast; I am happy about it. I’m still improving on time and stuff — I want to be better than that.”

The Bears continued their strong performance, getting help from a variety of swimmers including freshman Noemie Thomas, who beat junior teammate Rachel Bootsma in the 200-yard butterfly by only a few hundredths. Thomas also followed this up with a second-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 54.75, placing behind Badgers senior and sprinter Ivy Martin, who finished in 53.93. Martin also won the 100-yard freestyle, beating Franklin by seven hundredths of a second.

Despite losing both of the relay races during the meet, the Bears were able to finish strong and won along with the men.
“I think there were some standout performances and some learning experiences, with some close races that we missed,” Cunnane said. “There were some really outstanding performances. Marina Garcia and Elizabeth Pelton did a really nice job and some other good stuff that we are going to bring into the next phase of our season.”

Alaina Getzenberg covers women’s swim. Contact her at [email protected]

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