No. 4 Cal Opens New Year in Arizona
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  01/19/2011

Jan. 19, 2011

BERKELEY - The California women's swimming and diving team, now ranked fourth in the nation, heads into Pac-10 Conference action with a pair of dual meets in Arizona this week. The Golden Bears (2-1 record, 0-0 in the Pac-10) take on Arizona State (3-2, 1-2 Pac-10) at noon PST on Friday, Jan. 21, at Mona Plummer Aquatic Center. They battle No. 7 Arizona (6-1, 2-1 Pac-10) at noon PST on Saturday, Jan. 22, at Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.

Cal swept the Arizona schools - 157-135 over ASU and 165-134 over Arizona at Spieker Aquatics Complex - in dual-meet action last season. At last season's Pac-10 Championships, Cal finished second, Arizona took fourth and ASU placed sixth. At the 2010 NCAA Championships, the Bears placed third, the Wildcats finished fourth and the Sun Devils took 22nd.

Poll Position
Cal is tied with USC at No. 4, and with 931 points each, in the latest TYR/CSCAA Division I Swimming & Diving Team Poll. The Pac-10 has four teams, including No. 1 Stanford, in the top 10 and five teams, including No. 22 UCLA, ranked overall in the top 25. ASU has received the most points (72) of the unranked teams.

Scouting the Bears
Cal has forged a typically strong season so far, winning the college team title at the U.S. Short Course National Championships in early December and taking second place in the Arena Invitational in November. Earlier this season, the Bears beat Nevada, lost to Texas and topped Colorado State in dual meets.

The Bears are also among the leaders in the national rankings for several events. Sophomore Caitlin Leverenz leads the nation in the 200-yard breaststroke with an NCAA A time of 2:06.55 and ranks second in the 200-yard individual medley (1:56.25, NCAA B), fourth 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).

Senior Amanda Sims, who won the 100 fly at NCAAs in 2009, is third nationally in the 100 fly (52.40, NCAA B) and ninth in the 200 fly (1:56.39, NCAA B). Senior Hannah Wilson is tied for fifth in the nation in the 100 fly (52.72, NCAA B), sixth in the 100 freestyle (48.68, NCAA B), 19th in the 200 free (1:46.31, NCAA B) and 21st in the 50 free (22.66, NCAA B).

Another senior, Katie Kastes, paces the Bears in the 500 free (16th nationally, 4:43.38, NCAA B) and the 200 fly, in which she is tied for 20th (1:58.02, NCAA B). Junior Liv Jensen, the 2010 NCAA champ in the 50 free, currently holds Cal's fastest 50-free time (22.45, NCAA B), which ranks 12th in the country. Cal's freshmen have made an early impact in the season, as Cindy Tran has the team's fastest time in the 100 backstroke (4th, 52.90, NCAA B) and Deborah Roth is among the nation's best in both backstroke events. Roth is tied for 10th in the 100 (53.20, NCAA B) and ranks 16th in the 200 (1:55.48, NCAA B).

Cal ranks among the top six in the nation in each of the five relays. The Bears are second in the 400-free relay (3:14.50, NCAA A), fourth in the 800-free relay (7:09.14, NCAA B) and 200-medley relay (1:36.79, NCAA A), fifth in the 400-medley relay (3:34.87, NCAA B) and sixth in the 200-free relay (1:29.60, NCAA B).

Two Cal divers collected NCAA Zone E qualifying scores at the Jan. 7-9 Bruin Diving Invitational in Los Angeles. Senior Laura Sanford recorded one in the platform final (229.40, 3rd place) and sophomore Kelsey Heiken notched one in the three-meter springboard preliminary round (287.50, 2nd) at UCLA.

Scouting the Opposition
Arizona State has a 3-2 record, after wins over Utah and Oregon State in a Jan. 8 meet in Tempe. Two Swedes - swimmer Rebecca Ejdervik and diver Elina Eggers - were key factors in the Sun Devils' success last season. Eggers won the platform title at the Pac-10 Championships and NCAA Zone E Diving Championships, while Ejdervik won the 100 breaststroke at Pac-10s and took fifth in the 100 breast at NCAAs.

Dorsey Tierney-Walker is in her second year as head coach of the Sun Devils.

Arizona is 6-1 as it prepares for a home meet against Stanford on Friday, Jan. 21, at 2 p.m. MST before hosting the Bears on Saturday. The Wildcats most recently bested both Northern Arizona and Oregon State in a double-dual meet, with senior Susana Helms winning both the 500 and 1650 frees. Alyssa Anderson is a Wildcat to watch, as the junior placed seventh in the 500 free and ninth in the 200 fly at 2010 NCAAs. She currently leads the nation in the 500 free with an NCAA A time of 4:37.94.

Frank Busch is in his 22nd year as head coach of the Wildcats.

Last Time Out
The Cal swimmers trained in Hawaii from Jan. 5-14, while the Cal divers trained from Jan. 3-9 in Pasadena, Calif., and competed in the Bruin Diving Invitational from Jan. 7-9 in Los Angeles. At UCLA, Kelsey Heiken posted Cal's top finishes on both the three-meter springboard final (4th place, 277.80 points) and one-meter springboard final (6th, 259.35). Laura Sanford recorded the Bears' top finish on the platform, taking third (229.40). Freshman Kahley Rowell, who had the best preliminary platform score, wound up fourth in the final (217.50).

Blogging Bears
Junior swimmer Emily Bibb blogged from Hawaii for; you can read her blog, and view photos from the training trip, here. Senior diver Laura Sanford is writing a blog for over the rest of the season. Called "Falling Gracefully," Sanford's blog, which includes photos as well, is available here.

Next Time
Cal hosts No. 4 USC at 1 p.m. on Jan. 28 and No. 22 UCLA at noon on Jan. 29 at Spieker Aquatics Complex.