For a college student, the first half of December is as tense as it gets. With Thanksgiving over, the only thing standing between them and the sweet release of winter break is finals week. Cal students also need to navigate through dead week, however. What was originally made to ease stress now sometimes has adverse effects. A week when students should be utilizing extra study time can actually become extra time to procrastinate and worry.
In order to destress and cool off before this upcoming strenuous time of year, Cal women’s swim and dive will be heading north to the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center in Minneapolis, Minn. for the first time since the Minnesota Arena Pro Swim Series in 2015. The Minnesota Invitational will last from Dec. 4-7 and includes a nonscoring long course day Dec. 8.
This is going to be the Bears’ first meet of the season with premier competition. Up to this point, the Cal swim team has not faced any of the top-20 teams from the 2019 NCAA championship; it’s safe to say it has been an easy schedule so far. Minnesota will be the first test for the Bears, as some of the teams slated to swim in Minneapolis this week include Arizona, Minnesota, Harvard, Iowa, Michigan and Texas. Michigan and Texas both placed in the top five in 2019, while Minnesota and Arizona placed 11th and 16th, respectively.
Because of the increased competition, Minnesota is the first meet where Cal should expect to get some NCAA qualifying times, as it will need to be at its best to come out with the win in this frosty matchup.
For the Bears’ dive team, this will be a chance for redemption after a disappointing outing in Los Angeles at the Trojan Diving Invitational. Junior Briana Thai will look to get a zone qualifying score on platforms and show that she has recovered from her minor tricep injury, which she acquired during the Trojan Diving Invitational. The diving events that are expected to take place in Minnesota are 1-meter, 3-meter and platform diving competitions.
On the swim side, this invitational will be much more action-packed, as the first day kicks off with the 200 medley relay and the 800 freestyle relay. The final day of events will prove to be the longest, as it has six swim competitions planned, including the daunting 1650 freestyle race.
Although this is not Cal’s final opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Division I championships, the Bears know from being students that waiting until the last minute is not a smart idea. The Bears should take advantage of their dead week, or in this case, their snow week in Minnesota.
Tom Aizenberg covers women’s swim and dive. Contact him at