Cal women’s swim serves success at Chick-Fil-A Invitational

Karin Goh/File

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Fried chicken options aren’t exactly a novelty in the Berkeley community. But after forking over $8 for a sandwich at “The Bird” more times than Cal football turned the ball over against Arizona, one will inexplicably think about a return to the original: Chick-fil-A.

Those familiar with the restaurant typically expect two things from the fried-chicken staple: speedy service and satisfying bites of chicken.

The Bears brought the speed and came away with the satisfaction at the Chick-Fil-A Invitational, as Cal women’s swim topped 15 of 18 events en route to a comfortable win in Fresno last weekend. Cal put up 1,250 points in the victory, followed by second-place San Diego State with 963 and third-place Fresno State with 487. Washington State, Air Force and San Jose State finished fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

The team put together a remarkable 11 of 11 event wins on the first day of competition and took four of seven the next day. Relay events remain among the team’s core strengths, as the Bears won the 200 medley relay, the 200 free relay and the 800 free relay.

Individually, senior Katie McLaughlin made her return with an exclamation point after being rested for the Queen of the Pool meet two weeks ago. She won back-to-back races in the 100 butterfly (53.62) and the 200 freestyle (1:46.65). On the second day, McLaughlin capped off a strong performance by capturing the 200 butterfly with a time of 1:57.33.

Junior Abbey Weitzeil also proved that she deserved the Queen of the Pool title she earned in San Luis Obispo, as she won the 50 free, 100 breast and 100 free while taking part in five first-place relays. Meanwhile, sophomore Sarah Darcel produced a repeat performance, with victories in the same 200-yard and 400-yard individual medley events that she won last year.

Among the freshman class, Elise Garcia played a key role in two relay wins, while Ema Rajic was part of the first-place 400 medley relay.

England’s own Alicia Wilson, a Cal freshman, nearly secured her first collegiate individual win in the 100-yard backstroke, but missed out by just two milliseconds to her Cal teammate, junior Aislinn Light. Wilson would come painstakingly close for a second time in the 200-yard backstroke, finishing one-tenth of a second behind Fresno State junior Ugne Mazutaityte. Wilson would finish the two-day meet with a win in the 800 free relay on top of the two second-place finishes in her backstroke events.

Cal will return home to host its first dual meet against Utah on Oct. 10. From here on out, wins and losses in dual meets will count toward the Bears’ record — the team hopes to ride its preseason winning streak into another victory this Wednesday.

Chanun Ong covers women’s swimming and diving. Contact him at [email protected].