In Cal’s last dual meet of the season, the Bears fell short against Bay Area rival Stanford 101-161. Cal, now ranked at No. 12 in the nation, will head to the Pac-12 Championships next week.
Cal got going in Palo Alto early, winning the first event, the 200-yard medley relay. Group B, consisting of Isabelle Stadden on backstroke, Jade Neser on breaststroke, Mia Kragh on butterfly and McKenna Stone for freestyle, finished with a time of 1:37.02.
This time was over three seconds ahead of the first Stanford group to follow in third place and shaved 0.51 seconds off Cal’s recorded time against USC.
Even though the Bears lost by 60 points, they still won four of the 16 events in the meet and placed in numerous others.
Stadden won the 100 backstroke and the 200 backstroke with times of 51.84 and 1:54.69. These finishes were predictable, as backstroke is Stadden’s signature event.
Neser won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:01.16 to notch valuable points for the blue and gold. Neser came in over one second ahead of Stanford’s Allie Raab.
“We are getting dialed into what we need to get dialed into, which we don’t always have the time to do … It was just so much fun getting to be with the girls and swim against the rival school,” Neser said.
Sophomore Fanni Fabian, who is a distance swimmer, did not win her events, but she did have success in these races as she finished with her best times of the season for both of her main events: the 1000-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle.
Fabian finished the 1000-yard event with a time of 9:57.22, shaving over 10 seconds from her time against Arizona State and two seconds from USC. Her 500-yard time was 4:51.25, which cut about five seconds from her Arizona State meet, and six seconds from USC.
“I felt pretty great during the meet and the team was just there to support,” Fabian said. “I feel like the atmosphere was really good, especially against Stanford. It’s always an honor to swim against them, watch them and learn from them.”
Following Stanford, the blue and gold will now zero in on the Pac-12 Championships that are approaching. All season, the team has been angling to deliver its best performances in the conference tournament.
The women on the team have had different focuses throughout the season as they are at different points in their training. Some are working on their performance levels, some are already performing at the levels they need to be at and others are focusing solely on shining at the Pac-12 Championships.
“I had really good swims at Stanford, and I want to carry that through to the Pac-12s,” Neser said. “I just want to swim some pretty fast times in the breaststroke events, and try to get the Cal relay top five in the nation. I want to crack the top five, top-10 barrier in my individual events as well, and am going to use the Pac-12s to get a really good ranking for NCAAs.”
The team has already begun to taper its activity in preparation for the physical trials that are to come. Some are excited for the chance to catch up and get ahead in school, while others are ready to just focus on their recovery.
Cal will return to the pool in the Pac-12 Championships on Feb. 22.