Feb. 9, 2011
BERKELEY - The fourth-ranked California women's swimming and diving team faces its toughest challenge of the season thus far when it takes on rival and top-ranked Stanford in the Big Meet at noon on Saturday, Feb. 12, at Spieker Aquatics Complex. Additionally, the team will honor its eight senior Golden Bears - swimmers Erica Dagg, Kelsey Hoff, Katie Kastes, Ellie Monobe, Amanda Sims, Sara Sun and Hannah Wilson and diver Laura Sanford - prior to the final home competition of their Cal careers.
Nineteenth-year head coach Teri McKeever, also the 2012 U.S. Olympic head coach, has led the Bears to a dual-meet record of 6-1 (4-0 in the Pac-10 Conference). The Cardinal also stands at 4-0 in the conference and 8-0 overall.
Last season, Cal fell to Stanford, 167-131, down on the Farm.
In the latest TYR/College Swimming Coaches Association of America rankings, Cal is tied for fourth place with Texas with 434 points each. The Bears have one first-place vote, while Stanford is No. 1 with 1016 points (34 first-place votes), Georgia (925 points, 3 first-place votes) is No. 2 and Auburn (872, 0) is third. There are six ranked Pac-10 teams, with USC sixth, Arizona tied for seventh, UCLA No. 21 and Arizona State 25th.
Scouting the Golden Bears
Victories over four Pac-10 teams, in particular a dominant 182-118 upset of then-No 3 USC, have left the Bears in good stead heading into their rivalry meet, the Pac-10 Championships, NCAA zonal diving and, ultimately, the NCAA Championships.
On the swimming side, sophomore Caitlin Leverenz, Amanda Sims and freshman Cindy Tran have continued to excel amidst a star-studded roster. Leverenz, a member of the 2011 U.S. World Championships team, still leads the nation with the fastest 200-yard breaststroke time - an automatic NCAA qualifying time of 2:06.55 - and ranks second in the 200-yard individual medley (1:56.25, NCAA B), third in the 400 IM (school-record 4:05.04, NCAA A), fifth in the 200 butterfly (1:55.48, NCAA B) and 12th in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.35, NCAA B).
The 2009 NCAA champion in the 100 fly, Sims paces the Bears and ranks third nationally in her strongest event with an NCAA B qualifying time of 52.40; Wilson is tied for fourth with an NCAA B time of 52.72. Sims is ninth nationally in the 200 fly (1:56.39, NCAA B). Wilson is Cal's fastest swimmer in the 100 free (48.66, NCAA B, 6th nationally) and 200 free (1:46.31, NCAA B, 20th) and ranks behind junior Liv Jensen in the 50 free. Jensen, the 2010 NCAA champ in the 50 free, is 12th nationally with an NCAA B time of 22.45 in the sprint, while Wilson ranks 21st (22.66, NCAA B).
Tran ranks fourth in the nation (52.90, NCAA B) and fellow Cal freshman Deborah Roth is tied for 10th (53.20, NCAA B) in the 100 backstroke. Roth paces the Bears and stands 16th in the 200 back (1:55.48, NCAA B). Katie Kastes has been Cal's top middle-distance swimmer, ranking 16th in the country in the 500 free (4:43.28, NCAA B). She is also tied for 20th in the nation in the 200 fly (1:58.02, NCAA B).
Here is where Cal ranks nationally in the five relays: first in the 200-medley relay (1:36.79, NCAA A), second in the 400-free relay (3:14.50, NCAA A), fourth in the 800-free relay (7:09.14, NCAA B), fifth in the 400-medley relay (3:34.87, NCAA B) and sixth in the 200-free relay 1:29.60, NCAA B).
In diving, Kelsey Heiken has had a steady sophomore season. In Cal's most recent meet, she collected the Bears' best finishes against UCLA on Jan. 29, taking second in both springboard events. At three meters, Heiken posted an NCAA Zone E Championships qualifying score of 292.20 to place second and Bears junior Molly Hayes also recorded an NCAA Zone E qualifier of 283.73 to finish third. Heiken again took second, with a score of 255.82, on the one-meter board.
Scouting the Cardinal
The 2010 conference champ and national runner-up, Stanford boasts a talented lineup that includes four members of the 2010-11 U.S. national team (senior Kelsey Ditto, junior Sam Woodward and freshmen Felicia Lee and Andie Taylor) and seven 2011 U.S. World University Games swimmers - seniors Ditto, Kate Dwelley and Liz Smith; Woodward; and freshmen Lee, Taylor and Maya DiRado.
Woodward, Dwelley and junior Betsy Webb were on the 400-free relay that won the NCAA title last season; Cal was second. At Pac-10s, Webb won the 50 free and, along with Dwelley, was part of three victorious relays (200- and 400-free relays and 400-medley relay). Dwelley won the 200 free and Smith claimed the 200 breast at the conference meet.
Lea Maurer is in her sixth year as head coach at Stanford.
Last Time Out
Caitlin Leverenz displayed her versatility in four victories and fourth-ranked California defeated No. 21 UCLA, 168.5-131.5, on Jan. 29 at Spieker. The Golden Bears won 10 of 16 events to win their second straight home dual meet, after beating then-No. 3 USC, 182-118, on Jan. 28 at Spieker.
For the second straight day, Cal won the opening 400-yard medley relay. This time, the quartet of Cindy Tran, Leverenz, Amanda Sims and Liv Jensen posted a winning NCAA B time of 3:40.35, after Cal set a pool record of 3:36.36 to beat USC. Leverenz, who earlier in January earned a berth on the 2011 U.S. World Championships team, later captured the 200 fly in an NCAA B time of 1:57.61, the 200 breast in an NCAA B time of 2:13.05 and the 400 IM in an NCAA B time of 4:12.10.
Cal senior diver Laura Sanford is writing a blog for CalBears.com called "Falling Gracefully." Sanford's blog is available at this link. Junior Emily Bibb blogged for CalBears.com during the Cal swimmers' Hawaii training trip from Jan. 5-14; you can read her blog, and view photos from the training trip, here.
Cal competes in the Pac-10 Championships slated for Feb. 23-26 in Federal Way, Wash.