Bears become royalty: King Triton defeated in meet

Photo of Cal women's swimming
Sunny Shen/Senior Staff

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Cal legends in the making competed at the Legends Aquatic Center in Berkeley, finishing off the 2021 stretch of their season with win after win. After Berkeley finals week, the Bears topped off the week on a high note, conquering UC San Diego.

The women’s swim and dive squad has been rolling through its season, creating significant waves for its competition. Having lost against only one team, No. 1 Virginia, the Bears are on track to face prime competition at the NCAA championships.

This meet against UCSD concluded Cal’s 2021 swimming season. In 2021, the Bears participated in six meets, only two of which were against ranked schools. The largest of the meets was the Minnesota Invite, which showcased seven teams and lasted four days. This meet was an inside look into national competition and also provided insight into how the Bears can improve on their swimming prowess for the second stretch of their season.

The results of Minnesota were obvious: The Bears were unstoppable. And this weekend’s results proved it once again.

This meet offered different races than usual. For example, this meet showcased the 300-yard backstroke relay, the 600-yard freestyle and the 300-yard individual medley, in which strokes could be swum in any order. The Bears had to transition into a new mindset as they approached a different set of races.

However, the Bears naturally adapted.

Of the eight individual races, the Bears took home eight wins. This perfect record was initially led by junior Ayla Spitz, who led the 600-yard freestyle and completed it in 5:56.85. Following Spitz came the 150 freestyle, in which senior Elise Garcia dominated. Touching the wall in only 1:20.89, Garcia led the pack of nine and kept the momentum going for the next race, the 300 IM.

This race was a new addition to typical meet races, but senior Isabel Ivey did not flinch at this new wave thrown her way. Rather, she conquered the race, touching the wall in only 3:07.59, beating out her competition by nearly four seconds and leading with a 28-second margin from the last racer. Ivey’s performance was a clear statement of dominance.

Event seven came with suspense, as senior Alicia Wilson, junior Sarah DiMeco and freshman Lizzy Cook were neck and neck in tapping the wall first. Wilson emerged victorious, finishing in 1:28.47, but DiMeco and Cook were closely tailing, finishing in 1:28.65 and 1:28.79.

The freshmen stood out in Saturday’s races, as freshman Annika McEnroe won the 150 backstroke in 1:28.82 and freshman McKenna Stone secured first place in the back-to-back 50 free with a combined time of 48.22.

The Bears took home the gold in three of the four relays. With the dynamite team of senior Mia Motekaitis, McEnroe and Spitz, the Bears began the meet with success in the 300 backstroke relay, and they ended on top in the 250 freestyle relay, as Ivey, Wilson and Garcia worked together to touch the wall in just 2:01.43.

The Bears are making Cal fans proud all around the world, and with a whole other half of the season to swim, there is high excitement to see the dent Cal will make in college swimming history.

The Bears return to action Jan. 17 at the Spieker Aquatic Center, diving into the water at noon, where they’ll look to keep up their stellar swimming against San Jose State.

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