When someone mentions “Berkeley,” what’s the first thing to come to mind? The University of California, of course. Berkeley is not known for much more than Cal. When someone says “Los Angeles,” however, a plethora of associations comes to mind: Hollywood, Universal Studios, their 10,000 professional sports teams and lots and lots of celebrities. Something that does not immediately come to mind when thinking “Los Angeles” is their universities — specifically USC and UCLA.
Why would anyone think of two schools that don’t even have a top 20 ranked women’s swim team, according to the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association of America? The Bears are coming off back-to-back dual meets against Arizona and Arizona State where they won handedly, defeating both opponents by 95 points each.
The Trojans, on the other hand, are coming off of a 10-point loss at the hands of Minnesota, who the Bears defeated earlier in the season at the Minnesota Invitational. The loss of UCLA dropped the Trojans dramatically from No. 9 to No. 24.
UCLA is undefeated in dual meets this season, but has faced mediocre competition to say the least. In their seven dual meets, not a single one was against a team ranked in the top 25. They also only defeated Arizona and Arizona State by an average of 33 points. To top it all off, the Bruins placed fourth in the Ohio State Invitational, a tournament with multiple unranked opponents.
Not all undefeated records are created equal, which is why Cal should be heavily favored coming into this matchup.
The Bears also have the luxury of having not one, but two Pac-12 weekly award winners. Cal junior Briana Thai won the Pac-12 diver of the week, while fellow junior Abbey Weitzeil won the Pac-12 swimmer of the week after they both had impressive showings last weekend.
Thai won both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving competitions, while Weitzeil won all four of her individual races while also breaking two pool records and anchoring four winning relays.
Cal also had strong performances from a pair of sophomores when Alicia Wilson won three events against Arizona, and Isabel Ivey won three events of her own the following day against Arizona State. Wilson won the 200-yard freestyle, backstroke and individual medley — while Ivey won the 100-yard freestyle, backstroke and butterfly.
Cal should have extra motivation going into this matchup knowing that their final dual meet will come against rival and reigning champion Stanford. The Bears will likely want to remain undefeated heading into that meet as it will only add to the intensity, since Stanford could potentially be undefeated at that point as well.
The Bears face off against the Trojans on Friday at 2 p.m. and will follow that up with their UC system rival Bruins on Saturday at 12 p.m.
Tom Aizenberg covers women’s swim and dive. Contact him at