As the barrage of dual swim meets comes to a close, the Pac-12 Championships loom on the horizon. The Cal women’s swim team, which is the reigning Pac-12 champion, will compete in Federal Way, Washington, Wednesday through Saturday in hopes of seizing its fourth Pac-12 team championship.
The meet, which will air on TV from Feb. 27 through March 1 on Pac-12 TV Networks, will feature the previous day’s events.
As preparation for the intensity and pressure of the upcoming meet, the team has practiced in what it has been calling “Spieker Pond” this past week, as problems with the cleaning equipment have turned the pool green.
Junior Elizabeth Pelton described the silly name as a means to break the tension and ease the pressure of the coming swim meet.
“Spieker Pond, it’s been the ongoing joke the last few days,” Pelton said. “Every time we jump in, we’re like, ‘Alright, the Loch Ness Monster (the green water) is in the right corner.’ It’s been fun — it mixes us up a little. … (It’s) a little nerve wracking for some of our teammates, because they still have to make their A cuts for NCAAs. The whole joke of the pool being green has lightened the mood a little bit.”
The Pac-12 Championships will serve as a testament to what the Pac-12 swimmers from all across the nation have been competing for over the past year.
Last season was one for the books for the Cal women’s swimmers, as the Bears not only captured their third Pac-12 Championship title but finished third at NCAAs. Heading into the 2015 Pac-12 Championships, the team has once again reclaimed its nationally ranked No. 1 position, moving up from No. 3 after the Bears beat the Cardinal at home in the last dual meet of the season.
Senior Caroline Piehl will bring a fierce attitude to her final Pac-12 championship meet.
“Obviously, the goal is always to do the best that we can, and right now that’s looking at a Pac-12 Championship and National Championship,” Piehl said. “What’s different this year is that we are not afraid to say those goals and say that we want to win … having the guts and courage to shoot for what we want to do.”
The Pac-12 Championships will feature a throng of teams, including top-seeded Cal, No. 3 Stanford, No. 11 Arizona, No. 12 USC and No. 16 UCLA, and the unseeded teams of Utah, Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington State.
Sophomore Missy Franklin will embrace the coming meets with an understanding that the end of the NCAAs concludes her collegiate career. Her two years at UC Berkeley have paved the way for her professional aspirations, and her career as a youth swimmer has seen her become both a world champion and an Olympic gold medalist.
“I wasn’t ready for swimming to be my job quite yet,” Franklin said in a Pac-12 press conference after being asked why she chose to swim collegiately for two years instead of just going professional after the Olympics.
The team departs for Washington on Tuesday before competition begins the following day. Head coach Teri McKeever has been looking fondly upon the array of women who make up her team.
“The ultimate competitor is yourself,” McKeever said in the Pac-12 press conference. “All you have control over is your lane.”
Isabella Busacca covers women’s swim. Contact her at [email protected].