Cal women’s swim defends northern throne against UCLA, USC

Woman swims across pool while gasping for air.
Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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Where does Northern California actually begin? For some, it’s when the fog starts to creep in around Monterey. For others, the Bay Area is just barely a part of the “real” NorCal wilderness. Whether the Bay lies in true NorCal or not, one thing is for sure — our rivalry with our southern neighbors transcends baseball, beaches and the word “hella.”

Chalk two points up for the Bay last weekend as the No. 4 Cal women’s swim team trounced USC and UCLA, notching a pair of key conference play dual wins. With one meet remaining until Pac-12 championships, the Bears looked more comfortable than ever in the water as they dispatched both the Trojans and Bruins by convincing margins.

On Friday, Cal made a close meet on paper anything but as they downed the visiting Trojans by a score of 170-129.

The Bears won 10 of 16 events, with junior Abbey Weitzeil showing off her free sprinting dominance. USC led the 200 medley relay by a half second going into the 50 free leg, but Weitzeil delivered a blazing split of 21.35 seconds to take the event for Cal. She would go on to win the 50 free event with a time of 21.92, breaking two records in the process — her own 22.04 Cal dual meet record and the Spieker Aquatics Complex pool record of 21.97 held by Stanford’s Simone Manuel.

Weitzeil would round off her day with a win in the 100 free, while sophomore Robin Neumann locked down victories in the 200 free and the 500 free. Senior Katie McLaughlin won the 100 and 200 fly events as the Bears broke up the Trojans’ undefeated season.

Saturday saw the Bruins come to town after their Friday loss to Stanford. Cal showed no mercy in handing UCLA their second dual meet loss, also taking 10 of 16 events in a 167-130 Bear victory.

Eight different Cal swimmers claimed individual event wins against the Bruins, with highly touted freshman prospect Isabel Ivey earning her first individual event win as a Bear. She touched in just before senior Amy Bilquist in the 100 backstroke and anchored the first place 200 medley relay team.

Weitzeil delivered another outstanding split against UCLA in the 200 free relay, where her 21.29 anchor time secured yet another Cal win.

The Bears have just one more meet before Pac-12 championships arrive and fittingly, it will be against Stanford, the reigning national champion. The two wins this weekend push Cal’s record to 7-1 on the season, but the undefeated Cardinal matched the Bears’ efforts this weekend with wins of their own over the Trojans and Bruins. This year, the Cardinal comes in ranked behind current No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Michigan.

The Bears will be looking to replicate their 2014-15 championship season when they lost an early-season meet to Texas only to go undefeated in conference play and secure a national title. With wins against the rest of the Pac-12 thus far, the dream is still alive going into the final meet of the season.

The Bay Area will be in for a primetime showdown two weeks from now when the Cardinal visit Spieker. A win against No. 3 Stanford would be the ideal result for the Bears, but Cal will be facing its toughest competition since Texas and a win is anything but a guarantee.

With NorCal dominance at stake, Stanford will be the biggest dual meet of the year for Cal. Fans can drop by Spieker to catch it live Feb. 16 at noon.

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