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Bears solidify undefeated season in final meet against Stanford

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FEBRUARY 18, 2021

It had been six years since Cal women’s swim and dive last claimed victory over No. 10 Stanford, but the casual fan wouldn’t have guessed that given the commanding fashion in which the Bears throttled their archrival over the weekend.

Going into the action-packed dual meet, the blue and gold were ranked No. 1 in the country, and they certainly looked the part in their decisive 178-117 victory against perennial powerhouse Stanford.

Setting the tone was sophomore Sarah DiMeco, who reached the wall in 9:43.60 in the 1000-yard free and, in doing so, achieved a personal best. Finishing second, the promising underclassman set the tone for a day full of personal records.

“It gives me a lot of confidence to know that I got a best time without being fully rested,” DiMeco said. “Obviously, there was a lot at stake, and I had the whole team behind me, so it was the perfect opportunity to get a best time.”

Because the 1000-yard free is not raced at the Pac-12 meet, DiMeco looks forward to swimming long-distance races, such as the mile, in the next phase of her season.

Building on the momentum that DiMeco sparked, junior Isabel Ivey performed as well as she could have hoped, earning victory in three races — the only Bear to win more than one Saturday. Ranked No. 2 in the 100-yard backstroke nationwide, Ivey achieved a season best of 51.12. Ivey also managed a lifetime-best time of 47.24 in the 100-yard free.

“I wasn’t expecting to go a best time. I dropped two best times very quickly,” Ivey said.

The upperclassman was named Pac-12 Swimmer of the Week on Feb. 3, which seemed to heighten Ivey’s already competitive edge. After dominating this weekend, Ivey was once again honored with this prestigious title and is cementing herself as a leader for Cal.

Senior Robin Neumann also led by example as she kicked off what turned into an eight-race winning streak for the Bears, a streak that proved integral to the team’s overall triumph. Swimmers such as sophomore Rachel Klinker and freshman Isabelle Stadden contributed to the streak by winning races of their own.

Senior Briana Thai dove headfirst into a top finish of her own. Though Stanford’s competition was strong and presented a mental challenge for Thai, she saw herself as her real competition during this meet.

“I have learned that even though I am competing against other people, I am competing against myself. I have learned to be confident in myself and learn the dives,” Thai said.

Throughout the Bears’ dominant showing against not only a rival but another powerhouse program, they seemed to be having a blast.

“Overall, we have been doing pretty well, and we are enjoying having fun,” Thai added.

And it wasn’t just the competitors who were pleased with the team’s performance. Associate head coach Dani Korman was impressed with the results of the meet and the consistency shown by the squad during each race.

“The meet went really well, and they embraced another chance to race,” Korman said. “It was a full team effort. Obviously, we had a lot of event winners, but it came down to everybody scoring, and this shows how close we are as a team this year, and that’s what we are going to need going into Pac-12s and NCAA meets coming up.”

The Bears will be competing Feb. 24-27 in Houston, Texas, where the Pac-12 Championships will commence.

With a 3-0 record and a lightning-fast team, Cal will hope to display dominance over conference on one of the nation’s biggest stages.

Alisa Steel covers beach volleyball and women’s swim and dive. Contact her at [email protected].

FEBRUARY 18, 2021