Stacked Cal women’s swim team defeats Arizona State, Arizona

Andrew Peng/File

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With a kick and a flip, the No. 1 Cal women’s swim team paved the way for yet another successful spring season, after concluding its fall season. On Friday and Saturday, the team competed against Arizona State and the No. 14 University of Arizona, respectively. The team had great results, with a posted 197.5-102.5 victory Friday and a 157-143 win Saturday.

Associate head coach Kristen Cunnane said she was pleased with the team’s results, especially against Arizona, while also looks to the future and what can be improved.

“I was really impressed with Arizona’s team,” Cunnane said. “I thought they did a really good job racing us. Our girls responded really well to the challenge, and I am very proud of our win.”
Against the Wildcats, the Bears’ swim team had a solid performance. In the 1,000-yard freestyle, freshman Cierra Runge posted a 10:00.52 time but ultimately lost to Arizona’s Tjasa Oder, whose time was 9:53.28. Two other Bears, sophomore Marina Garcia and senior Catherine Breed, finished third and fourth, respectively.

“There was definitely room for improvement,” Cunnane said. “But the girls are racing hard and are very determined.”

In the 400-yard medley relay, the two teams who competed on behalf of Cal fell second and third in the four-lane race. The team of junior Rachel Bootsma, Garcia, sophomore Farida Osman and junior Elizabeth Pelton nearly outraced Arizona’s relay team but couldn’t pull ahead with a more than a second separating the two teams. Cal’s loss came as a bit of a surprise because of the talent of Cal’s team, with Bootsma’s status as an Olympian and Pelton, who barely missed out on qualification for the 2012 Olympics.

In the 200-yard freestyle, sophomore Missy Franklin proved her dominance with a conclusive victory in a stellar 1:46.62 time. She also helped lead the 200-yard freestyle relay team to a victory alongside fellow swimmers Kaylin Bing, a senior, Bootsma and Osman.

“I actually felt really good today,” Franklin said during the broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks. “Our whole team had an awesome training trip to Hawaii. We got hit pretty hard this week, so we knew we were going to have to come in and do the best we can with what we have in the tank right now. It’s been great to see what we’re capable of.”

Pelton also showed off her immense capabilities, claiming victory in the 100-yard backstroke and 400-yard IM. She fell second in the 200-yard backstroke, however, to Bonnie Brandon.

In the 100-yard butterfly, the first four finishers were all Cal competitors, with Osman claiming the race, trailed closely by fellow Cal swimmers Bootsma and freshmen Noemie Thomas and Jasmine Mau.

Cunnane was impressed with the team’s results, yet she said there is still room for improvement in the areas of turns, starts and mental toughness.

“We are typically very strong in freestyle and breaststroke, but today, we stepped up in butterfly,” Cunnane said.

In the 1-meter event for women’s diving, junior Anne Kastler took home second with a score of 269.48. Of the nine competitors in the 3-meter event, Cal divers Hayden Tavoda, Kastler and Eleanor Smart placed fourth, seventh and eighth, respectively.

With a 14-point victory over the Wildcats and another dominant performance over Arizona State, this past weekend’s swim meets were another splash in the Bears’ accumulating victories.

Isabella Busacca covers women’s swim. Contact her at [email protected].