Cal women’s swim and dive racks up solid finishes over weekend

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The Cal women’s swimming and diving team plunged headfirst into the spring portion of its schedule as the team competed in two tournaments Jan. 15-17, the Bruin Diving Invitational and the Austin Arena Pro Swim Series.

The Bruin Diving Invitational, hosted by UCLA, saw several Bears perform well against tough competition from Pac-12 rivals such as UCLA, USC and Utah. On the first day of the invitational, freshman Phoebe Lamay finished third in the women’s 1-meter diving finals with a score of 580.70 behind two UCLA divers, Maria Polyakova and Eloise Belanger, who scored 633.05 and 604.20, respectively.

Lamay also finished seventh in the women’s 3-meter diving finals Saturday with a score of 578.00. Senior Sara-Lina Boushakra placed ninth in the event with a score of 572.85. Other Cal divers who competed at the invitational included senior Anne Kastler, who secured a 12th-place finish in the 1-meter event with a 517.25 score in the finals, and junior Hayden Tavoda, who finished in 18th in the event with 477.90.

Cal swimmers competed at the Austin Arena Pro Swim Series, hosted by Texas, over the same duration as the Bruin Diving Invitational. The meet featured world-class swimmers such as Sarah Sjostrom, Katie Ledecky and Abby Weitzel, who provided stiff competition for the Bears at the tournament.

Junior Farida Osman finished sixth in the third heat of the women’s 100-meter freestyle finals with a time of 56.13. The fourth heat of the event saw three Bears, senior Rachael Acker, freshman Amy Bilquist and senior Elizabeth Pelton finish fourth, fifth and sixth with times of 56.14, 56.15 and 56.51, respectively.

Cal swimmers continued to perform well on the first day of the tournament, especially in the women’s 100-meter butterfly finals. In the first heat of the event, three Bears, sophomore Noemie Thomas, senior Kelly Naze and Osman placed third, fourth and fifth with times of 58.38, 58.62 and 59.18, respectively, just behind Sjostrom, 56.38, and Dana Vollmer, 57.61.

Other Bears who made their presence felt in the event were freshman Kathleen Baker, third in the second heat with a time of 1:00.06, and junior Celina Li, who was seventh in the second heat with a time of 1:00.87. Senior Rachel Bootsma secured third place in the third heat with a time of 1:00.49.

The final day produced the strongest results of the entire tournament for the Bears as Baker finished third in the 100-meter backstroke event, only fractions of a second behind the 59.91 and 1:00.03 times of Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu and former Cal swimmer Missy Franklin. Sunday also saw Li and Naze finish second and third in the second heat of the women’s 200-meter individual medley finals with times of 2:15.15 and 2:15.72, respectively. Acker also clocked in at a time of 2:20.39 in the fourth heat of the event.

The two tournaments offered a glimpse into the potential that Cal’s swimming and diving units have heading into the start of the spring. The team, which captured a national title last season, will look for its emerging talents to help fill the void left by Franklin’s departure and continue its domination of the collegiate swimming world.

Shiktij Dave covers women’s swimming. Contact him at [email protected].