If you ask most Berkeleyans what they think of Georgia, chances are you’ll be greeted with a share of quizzical expressions and claims that the state seems like an entirely different country. For some, however, gratitude is in order for Georgia’s help with the peach cobbler and pecan pie this holiday season.
Cal women’s swim took a trip to the nation’s peach mecca last week to take on Michigan, Virginia, UCLA and host Georgia at the Georgia Fall Invitational.
The Bears came away with 827.5 points and third place, behind No. 3 Michigan with 944 and No. 11 Georgia with 835. In the process, Cal secured qualification for March’s NCAA championships in seven different events and dominated the meet’s relays from start to finish.
Junior Abbey Weitzeil opened the scoring with an exclamation point last Thursday, as she delivered the nation’s fastest 50 free time of the year at 21.46 seconds. She also anchored the 200 free relay with a superb time of 21.05, leading the Bears to this year’s national best time of 1:26.94.
Cal’s relay squad was in total control over the course of the three-day event, as the second day saw two more groups of swimmers post A Cut times.
The 200 medley team — the same as the 400 medley — of Keaton Blovad, Ema Rajic, Katie McLaughlin and Weitzeil set the second-best time in the country with 1:35.65. With Cal and Michigan deadlocked heading into the anchor leg, Weitzeil’s 21-second freestyle split won the event for the Bears by four-tenths of a second.
Sophomore Sarah Darcel defended her title with a victory in the 400 medley with 4:09.06. She, Weitzeil, McLaughlin and fellow sophomore Robin Neumann set another national No. 2 time in the 800 free relay, easily qualifying with an A mark of 6:59.25.
The final day saw Weitzeil put the cherry on top of her stellar event performance, beating her own Cal record with a 100 free time of 46.49. To cap off a successful weekend, Blovad, McLaughlin, Neumann and Weitzeil sped to a national-best time of 3:11.14 in a 400 free relay.
Cal’s relay teams have proven the cohesion present amongst the Bears many times over, and individual trends have pointed in the right direction heading into the spring semester.
The Bears will return to Berkeley for a local dual meet with San Jose State on Dec. 19, followed by a monthlong holiday break before heading to the desert to take on Arizona and Arizona State in January 2019.
Chanun Ong covers women’s swimming and diving. Contact him at [email protected].