Conquered by Cardinal: Cal loses to Stanford in Bay Area battle

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Vanessa Lim/Senior Staff

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In an attempt to seize one last competition at the Spieker Aquatic Complex, the Bears lost their momentum and handed a win to the Cardinal. Despite the decisive loss, Cal maintained promising performances and gained new insight on how it can chop some trees down at the Pac-12 championships.

Saturday’s dual meet was jump-started by a beautiful ceremony honoring the seniors of Cal’s swim and dive team. Six seniors, Elise Garcia, Robin Neumann, Isabel Ivey, Ema Rajic, Maddie Ward and Alicia Wilson, earned their spotlight and were applauded for their multiple years of dedication to the Bears. After helping achieve a streak of 15 years of top 5 finishes at the NCAA and winning a Pac-12 championship last season, these seniors had a lot of success to recall, and still have a lot of success to look forward to in the concluding meets of this season.

The action on Saturday began when Ivey secured the first win for the Bears in the 200-yard freestyle, the third race of the day. With a winning time of 1:44.40, Ivey touched the wall more than two seconds faster than Stanford’s Taylor Ruck. Ivey took it upon herself to show Stanford that it did not have the power to take over Bear territory.

Notably, Ivey created a domino effect for her teammates. Following her win, the Bears came in hot in their races, cranking up the competitive edge and giving Stanford a run for its money.

In event four, sophomore Isabelle Stadden had a clean sweep over her opponents, finishing the 100 backstroke in 52.42. With three Stanford swimmers coming in behind her, Stadden sealed the win for the Bears and earned the team 9 points.

Rajic, a Cal senior and Tokyo Olympic swimmer, took home the 100 breaststroke in 1:01.78. Swimming neck and neck with Stanford’s Allie Raab, Rajic pulled ahead and touched the wall with a 0.22-second margin between her and Raab. Ward and freshman Alicia Henry placed fourth and third respectively, with Henry finishing only 0.04 seconds behind Raab.

Ivey, the backbone of the Bears, earned her second win in the ninth event of the day, the 100 freestyle. In her nearly perfect stroke, Ivey dominated in 48.39 and was accompanied by her teammate, junior Eloise Riley, in second place. The Bears made exceptional strides in this race, coming back with a win after three lost races.

Freshman Leah Polonsky, the star underclassman of the swimming squad, earned 9 points for Cal as she emerged victorious in the 200 breaststroke. With Stanford swimmers riding her tail the entire race, Polonsky pulled forward at the end and finished in 2:13.33. This remarkable performance is a positive sign for the future of Cal women’s swim and dive.

The Bears conquered the 15th and penultimate race of the day. In her third and final win, Ivey pulled forward and beat out her competition in the 200 individual medley in only 1:57.98. She was followed by other Bears like a school of fish, as Wilson tapped the wall second with a time of 1:59.25, and Polonsky tapped the wall fourth in 1:59.54. This race earned 15 points for the Bears and nearly solidified their final score.

Overall, the Bears did what they were supposed to do. While the trophy did not go in their favor, the blue and gold swam harder than ever before and gained valuable information on where they stand in respect to the other Pac-12 teams.

With the Pac-12 championships approaching quickly, the Bears only have a short amount of time to figure out how they will return to Berkeley after the competition with a win under their belts.

Cal returns to action Wednesday, Feb. 23 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington for the Pac-12 championships.

The pressure is on for the Bears, but fans will hope that their confidence and power will outweigh the Pac-12 competition.

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