Live Updates: Cal Women's Swimming and Diving in the Hunt for a National Championship
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Back in Greensboro, North Carolina, the site of Cal’s last national championship win in 2015, the conference-champion Bears are aiming for their 11th-straight of top-three finish and hoping for a fifth national title. Follow here as we will keep you all updated with the results.
Final Team Scores
NC State 354
Saturday Finals Updates
Sophomore Sarah Dimeco ultimately finished in 18th, just a couple tenths away from scoring. The lack of scoring here hurts as the battle for third-place will likely come down to a couple points. UVA senior Paige Madden cruised to a victory in swimming’s longest race, putting her firmly in contention for Swimmer of the Meet.
Freshman Isabelle Stadden, who hasn’t necessarily had the strongest of meets, still came away with a third-place finish. Stadden was one of 4 freshmen in the A-final this evening, which makes this particular event ridiculously exciting in the coming years, and came away with a new personal-best by .11 seconds. The 16 points from Stadden here are super important in Cal’s quest to finish within the top-three for a 12th-straight year. Congratulations to Stadden!
Junior Isabel Ivey continued her strong performance with a third-place finish behind Michigan junior Maggie MacNeil and Virginia sophomore Kate Douglass. Her time of 46.95 was her first time under 47 seconds—a milestone only accomplished by the sports’ most elite sprinters. That’s 16 points that currently puts Cal in third-place overall by one point. Robin Neumann and Emily Gantriis added a 13th and 14th place finish, respectively.
Without a scorer in this event, Cal is essentially out of the race for 3rd-place. The battle for second between NC State, who took 1st and 4th in this event, and Texas will likely come down to the final relay.
Sophomore Rachel Klinker was off her personal-best by nearly 1.5 seconds this morning, but her time of 1:53.19 in the B-final would have finished 4th, which is a difference of 6 points. Barring a DQ in the final relay, Cal will hold on to 4th-place in the event.
Cal’s only entrant in this event was senior Brianna Thai, who finished in 43rd. The bigger story here is that Texas scored 26 points with their 5th, 10th, and 12th place finishes.
400-yard freestyle relay
With the relay disqualification earlier in the meet, you could tell that the Cal quartet of Robin Neumann, Emily Gantriis, Elise Garcia, and Isabel Ivey were a bit tentative with their starts. Nevertheless, the Bears took third-place in this event behind a phenomenal swim by Isabel Ivey. Her split of 46.10 seconds was the fastest in the field and closed a massive gap that Alabama and Virginia had created. Congratulations on their third-place finish!
Saturday Prelim Recap
We will be talking a lot about Cal vs. Texas next week when the two schools are the clear juggernauts in the battle for the NCAA men’s swimming and diving championship. For the final day of this year’s women’s championships, the battle for 3rd between Cal and Texas will also be the most intriguing drama for the final session.
Cal did not do as well as possible on Saturday morning. Alicia Wilson, coming off a poor 400 IM swim, just missed out on points in the 200 Back with an 18th place finish. Elise Garcia as the 17th fastest 100 Free qualifiers will also miss out on points.
Golden Bears will have Isabelle Stadden as the 4th seed in 200 Back and Isabel Ivey as the 2nd seed in 100 Free as the lone A-Finalists. Robin Neumann and Emily Gantriis will race in the 100 Free B-Final. Rachel Klinker also made the B-Final with the 11th best 200 Fly time. Sarah Dimeco, who has not had a fast meet, does have the 13th seed time for the 1650 Free.
For Texas, they are in a somewhat better position than Cal with the 3rd seed in 1650 Free, a B-Finalist in 200 Back, a B-Finalist in 200 Breast, and a difference-making 3 A-Finalist in 200 Fly. Of course, Texas is expected to have another Top-8 finish in diving.
You can count on the Cal Bears to not concede 3rd place despite a tough morning. The major difference may come in the meet-ending final event - 400 Free relay. Cal could surprise again and win another relay while Texas is merely seeded 8th and may not even be a lock to make the top-8.
Friday Finals Updates
400-yard individual medley
Virginia’s Ella Nelson won this race just ahead of Kentucky’s Lauren Poole and Stanford’s Brooke Forde.
Isabel Ivey finished 4th in the A-Final (50.68) behind a US record set by Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil (48.89).
Ayla Spitz placed 3rd in the consolation final. Robin Neumann placed 6th (1:44.26) in the A-Final as Virginia’ Paige Madden won her 2nd event at this championships after 500-yard freestyle.
Ema Rajic placed 6th in the B-Final with a time of 59.17. NC State’s Sophie Hansson won this title as expected.
Isabel Ivey and Isabelle Stadden finished 4th (50.85) and 5th (50.87) in the A-Final. NC State got another win with Katharine Berkoff setting a pool record (49.74).
Minnesota’s Sarah Bacon won her 2nd diving event of this meet. Texas picked up more points due to Paola Pineda’s 5th place finish.
200-yard medley relay
Cal wins heat 4 over Texas and Stanford with a time of 1:34.98. The Bears used strong butterfly leg from Isabel Ivey (22.76 split) and freestyle leg from Elise Garcia (21.51 split) to pull away from the rest of that heat.
NC State dominated heat 5 with 1:33.18 ahead of Virginia and Ohio State. Cal ends up 4th overall as Ohio State edged the Bears by 0.02 second.
Thoughts going into the final day: This is obviously not quite the meet that the Cal Bears had envisioned. Outside of Isabel Ivey, most Bears are not really setting any personal records. Going into the final day, Cal could have big points from 200-yard backstroke and 100-yard freestyle IF they can qualify 3-4 swimmers in these two events. Should the Bears be able to do that, they just might be able to continue the streak of top-3 finishes to 12 years.
Friday Prelim Updates
Day 3 started on a rather down note for the Cal Bears as Alicia Wilson, seeded 4th, did not make the 400 IM finals as she posted only the 22nd best time (and more than 7 seconds slower than her seed time). Sarah Dimeco was also much slower than her seed time in this event. Cal Bears will score another unexpected zero point in a swimming event.
Things got a bit on track in the second event as Robin Neumann earned a spot in the 200 Free A-Final. Ayla Spitz just missed out by having the 9th best time and will race in the B-Final.
Isabel Ivey, who will pull a double duty tonight, earned the 3rd seed in 100 Fly and 4th seed in 100 Back. Ivey will be joined by teammate Isabelle Stadden in the 100 Back final as the freshman had the 5th best time of the morning.
Ema Rajic earned a spot in the 100 Breast B-Final.
In the team race, Cal will have 4 A-Finalists (Ivey x2) and 2 B-Finalists in addition to the relay. Virginia will solidify their grasp of a first NCAA team title with 7 A- and 4 B- finalists; they also have three top seeds for tonight. NC State matched the Bears with 4/2 and Sophie Hansson is the favorite for the 100 Breast with Katherine Berkoff tied for the top seed in 100 Back. Texas got an extra B-Finalist with 4/3 and will likely get an extra top-8 finisher in the 3-meter diving. Just behind the Bears in the team standings currently, Ohio State qualified 2/2.
Thursday Finals Updates
The Thursday night session was delayed by just over 30 minutes due to a tornado warning in the Greensboro, NC area.
200-yard freestyle relay
Congratulations to Eloise Riley, Emily Gantriis, Elise Garcia, and Isabel Ivey on their victory tonight! With a time of 1:25.78, the quartet set a new pool record!
Virginia took an early lead with Kate Douglass as the leadoff. However, a strong 3rd leg swim by Elise Garcia gave the Cal Bears a slight lead going to Isabel Ivey as the anchor.
Cal’s Ayla Spitz (4:39.70) was able to improve her position from the prelim this morning by one to finish 5th overall. As expected, Virginia’s Paige Madden (4:33.61) won this event.
The Cal Bear qualified two swimmers in the consolation (B) final. Robin Neumann finished 5th (4:42.31) while Rachel Klinker finished 8th (4:45.39). Somewhat interestingly, both swimmers swam slower in this final than their seed time or prelim time from this morning.
Overall, 22 points from two swimmers for Virginia and 19 points from three swimmers for Cal.
200-yard individual medley
Alicia Wilson was neck-and-neck with Virginia’s Alex Walsh through the first two legs, but Walsh pulled ahead in the breaststroke leg and hold on for the win (1:51.87). Wilson ended up 3rd (1:54.51). UVA got a second A-Finalist as Ella Nelson, who will be better in the 400 IM, finished 5th.
Emily Gantriis (21.90) almost won the B-Final (and the two additional points) but got edged by Missouri’s Megal Keil (21.87). 10th place overall still gave the Bears 7 points.
Virginia got yet another win when Kate Douglass (21.13) just out-touches Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil (21.17) by 0.04 second.
Texas’s Paula Pineda finished 5th but no Cal Bears nor Virginia Cavaliers scored any points. Minnesota senior Sarah Bacon won this event for the 3rd time.
400-yard medley relay
Cal finished 3rd but that result was wiped out due to a false start. NC State was a mild surprise in winning this event ahead of Virginia. Cal was in 2nd place after a strong butterfly leg by Isabel Ivey, but Kate Douglass was able to catch and surpass Emily Gantriis, who unfortunately also left the starting block just a touch early.
The loss of these 32 points will be very tough to overcome.
Thursday Prelim Updates
It wasn’t the best morning session for Cal as they needed every entered swimmer to make an A- or B-final to get points on the board. In the 500-yard freestyle, the Bears got 1 swimmer into the A-final and 2 more into the B-final (UVA had 1 in each final including the top seed). In the 200-yard individual medley, Alicia Wilson had the second-fastest time of the morning, but Virginia had the first and third fastest times of the morning. Meanwhile, freshman Isabelle Stadden missed the finals altogether after a rough swim that was nearly 1.5 seconds slower than her season best from a few weeks ago. In the 50-yard freestyle, Cal got just 1 evening swim with freshman Emily Gantriis in the B-final. Eloise Riley and Elise Garcia were both off their season-best and placed outside the top-16 needed for a finals swim. UVA, on the other hand, is the heavy favorite to win this event with Kate Douglass as the top qualifier this morning.
Overall, the times from this meet have been slower than previous NCAA Championships and Cal has been hit hard thus far. It’s still too early to tell exactly what to attribute it to as it could be a variety of factors such as missed taper or the timezone changes (competing in North Carolina). Regardless, the Bears will need to perform at a higher level in upcoming sessions if they want to challenge UVA as Virginia is already building about a 30-35 point lead after tonight’s session.
The Cal quartet of Robin Neumann, Ayla Spitz, Rachel Klinker, and Alicia Wilson finished in third-place after Wilson lunged past Texas in the last five yards of the race. Their time of 6:57.06 is about a second slower than their conference winning time from a couple weeks ago and .04 seconds behind second-place Kentucky and 4.5 seconds behind the eventual winner, UVA. Congratulations to the squad on their strong start to the meet!