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Cal races towards Pac-12 Championships

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FEBRUARY 21, 2023

The Bears will head into a week full of meets starting Wednesday for the Pac-12 Championships. Pac-12s will be the last meet of the season for some Cal swimmers, while others have either already qualified for NCAAs, or will use this meet to do so.

The Pac-12 Championship is in Federal Way, Washington and will include swimmers from every swim team within the Pac-12 division — including Cal’s entire roster, despite the fact that teams normally send travel rosters. The meets will be a three-and-a-half meet format and begin Wednesday night with relays, then progress into individual events Thursday through Saturday with relays at night.

Pac-12s will be the last fully suited meet that the women will have before the fast-approaching NCAA qualifications are submitted. Some swimmers, such as Isabelle Stadden, Rachel Klinker, Ayla Spitz, Leah Polonsky and Mia Motekaitis have already had fast enough times to qualify for the NCAA Championships, while other swimmers are still trying for those breakthrough times.

“This meet is the last time that you will have a chance where you are fully tapered, take off all your body hair, put on your very expensive tech suit and get down to business,” Klinker said. “All your hard work and fine-tuning of your strokes comes down to this moment here … and you just have to lay it all on the line.”

When facing Arizona State, not wearing technical suits proved to be an issue for Cal. This week, wearing technical suits will be a benefit for them in the water, but the Bears will have to get used to them as they haven’t been using them in previous meets.

Training for the championships has looked different for every swimmer involved. Swimmers who are hoping to use Pac-12s as a launching point for NCAAs have done a full taper — cutting down the amount of practices and becoming more speed-race-oriented, with less weightlifting and more exercises to improve performance in the water.

Those who have already qualified for NCAAs have been focusing more on those, rather than the Pac-12 Championships ahead: a “drop-taper.” This allows a few more days of rest, gradually reducing how much they lift in weight room sessions and doing more suited sessions in the water to get a better idea of what to expect around championship time.

“I am hoping to get a lot of things out of this next week,” Klinker said. “I plan on coming back for a fifth year, but I know some people in my class aren’t going to be here, so I want to cherish that time with them while I can.”

Some seniors, including Eloise Riley and Motekaitis, also plan to return for a fifth year of eligibility, but the jury is still out on the other seniors on the team. The team will be hoping to repeat the results from two years ago, when the Bears won the Pac-12 divisional title.

“I want to go fast this week,” Klinker said. “As the Pac-12 champion of the 200 butterfly my sophomore year, I know there are some great butterflyers out on the stage and I am excited to race in every race, and every single chance I get.”

Contact Stefania Bitton at 


FEBRUARY 21, 2023