LOS ANGELES – What a difference a day can make. With 10 wins in 16 events, an inspired Cal women’s swimming & diving team rebounded from a lost at USC with a 183.5-116.5 victory over No. 17 UCLA Saturday. The Pac-12 Networks will broadcast the meet Sunday at 4 p.m. PT.
“Yesterday, I felt we got caught on our heels, and today we were in a much better place, taking care of our own business and doing what we need to do,” head coach Teri McKeever said. “For the most part, I am really pleased with the results.”
Cal, the top-rated team in the country, improved to 7-1 overall with one meet remaining – at Stanford in two weeks. The Bears lost at No. 5 USC on Friday. With the season rapidly moving toward its conclusion, McKeever said the Bears need to focus on what’s most important over this final stretch.
“We want to make sure that we’re being smart at workout, away from workout, taking care of ourselves, staying on top of academics, resting and making good choices,” McKeever said. “We’ve put a lot of hard work in and now it’s time to fine tune and see where it takes us. I think right now, the most is to reenergize.”
Although Cal did not win the 1000 free to begin the day against the Bruins – Marina Garcia led a 2-3-4 Cal showing with a season-best 10:09.24 – the Bears flexed their muscle in the 200 medley relay by taking the top two positions, with both times under the meet record. The foursome of Rachel Bootsma, Yvette Kong, Cindy Tran and Kaylin Bing won in 1:40.04 while Stephanie Au, Melissa Bates, Farida Osman and Camille Cheng were right behind in 1:40.59. The previous mark was 1:40.71 set by Cal in 2007.
Missy Franklin followed with a 1.5-second victory in the 200 free, finishing in 1:47.16. Camille Cheng took third in 1:48.87 with Rachel Acker fourth in 1:49.04. Elizabeth Pelton then led the Bears to a sweep of the top three placed in the 100 back in 54.24. Au was second in 54.41 and Bootsma third in 54.74.
In the 100 breaststroke, Kong led from the start and reached the wall in 1:02.46, just .06 off her season best from AT&T Winter Nationals in December. Garcia was next in 1:03.79 and Bates third in 1:04.39 for another Bears sweep.
The Bruins stopped Cal’s run in the 200 butterfly when Katie Kinnear touched in 1:58.65. Sophia Batchelor was the Bears’ top finisher, coming in third in 2:01.22.
However, Cal returned to the podium when Osman edged Bing in the 50 free (22.90 to 22.93) for a 1-2 Bears showing. UCLA’s Ting Quan withheld a late challenge from Cal’s Acker in the 100 free, prevailing in 50.07 to win by .08 seconds.
The diving competition took place Friday, with Anne Kastler winning the 1-meter competition (285.05) and taking second on the 3-meter board (294.95).
Franklin claimed her second event of the day, touching in 1:58.43 in the 200 back, while Garcia pulled away to prevail in the 200 breast in 2:16.92. Kong tied for second with UCLA’s Jessica Khojasteh in 2:18.65.
After a one-event break – less than five minutes between races – Franklin jumped back into the pool again and engaged in a battle with Lauren Baker of UCLA in the 500 free, with the Bruin holding on for first in 4:51.56. Franklin was second in 4:53.86. The Bruins kept the Bears out of the top spot in the 100 fly, with Quan claiming the race in 54.00 to Bootsma’s 54.51 and Kelly Naze’s 54.84.
Cal wrapped up the afternoon with a pair of victories, starting when Celina Li, Pelton and Kelly Naze went 1-2-3 in the 400 individual medley. Li was well in front in 4:15.66, with Pelton next in 4:17.40 and Naze third in a strong 4:20.87.
The final race saw the quartet of Bing, Tran, Osman and Franklin set a meet record with a time of 1:30.87 in the 200 free relay, breaking the mark of 1:31.49 set by Cal in 2009.
The Bears have one remaining dual meet before championship season begins, at Stanford on Saturday, Feb. 15 beginning at 10 a.m. The matchup will also be televised by the Pac-12 Networks. The conference is meet at the end of the month with the NCAA Championships in March.
Among those in attendance at UCLA were a couple of Golden Bear alumni and Olympic medalists – Caitlin Leverenz, who earned a bronze in the 200-meter IM in 2012, and Sara Isakovic, a silver-medal recipient in the 200 free in 2008.