When it comes to chicken restaurants, Chick-fil-A is solid. Not bad, not great — just solid. Raising Cane’s, on the other hand, could be described as fresh, hot or even amazing.
The Bears’ work this weekend at the annual Chick-fil-A Invitational was fresh, hot and amazing — so tasteful, in fact, that Cal might as well be renamed after Raising Cane’s.
Like Raising Cane’s, the Bears looked fresh and got off to a hot start, winning 10 of the 11 day-one events. Cal also had an amazing finish, beating San Diego State by a margin of 508 points — more than third-place Fresno State’s total score of 471.5. Overall, the Bears won 17 of 19 events, which is a slight improvement from last year’s 15 victories at the Chick-fil-A Invitational.
“I think our big goal was really to just see how we swim together as a team, and so over the course of the weekend we broke five pool records which is exciting,” said Cal women’s swim assistant coach Dani Korman.
To say that Cal swam well together would be an understatement.
Two of these five pool records were broken during relays where the Bears swept the competition, winning all five relay events. The first of these victories was during the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:40.97. The second relay, in which Cal broke a pool record, was the 400-yard medley with a time of 3:42.44.
“I think a lot of people definitely improved on their times from Cal Poly and improved on their times from meets last year,” said Korman. “If they didn’t, then they were really receptive to things they can do better for the rest of the year — so I think it was definitely a good experience.”
Although many swimmers had strong races, the star of the Chick-Fil-A invitational was Isabel Ivey, who not only participated in four winning relays, but also placed first in three individual races. On day one, Ivey won the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 54.04. She followed that up with a win in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 54.18. Both of these races she won by over a whole second. Ivey finished her trio of wins with a first place finish in the 200 fly and a time of 2:03.24.
“I think a lot of the freshman had some really good swims,” said Korman.
Freshman Ayla Spitz won the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:50.26. Another pool record was broken by freshman Sarah DiMeco in the 1,650-yard freestyle. DiMeco recorded a time of 17:00.36, beating runner-up and teammate Anna Kalandadze by over 13 seconds. DiMeco also placed first during the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:24.89.
Junior Robin Neumann and sophomore Alicia Wilson also won their individual races with the latter setting a pool record of 2:00.59 in the 200-yard individual medley. Neuman also won the 500-yard freestyle by almost five seconds.
Crowned the reigning “Queen of the Pool” at Cal Poly, Abbey Weitzeil, continued her dominance in the Chick-Fil-A Invitational by getting first place in two individual events: the 50- and 100- yard freestyle. She won with times of 22.55 and 49.09 respectively.
The Bears didn’t just dominate the swimming portion of the meet as junior Briana Thai won both the one-meter and three-meter dives. Thai won the former with a score of 295.6 and the latter with a personal best and pool record score of 334.
Cal’s next meet will be Oct. 24, when the Bears host Washington State University.
Tom Aizenberg covers women’s swim and dive. Contact him at